I can’t believe I’m writing a post on The Aliyah Blog from the US, or that I’ve been in North America since August, but this year has been unexpected for everyone, so why am I surprised?
For starters, my days look totally different. I was studying full time while working at the Heritage House hostel and online, taking small gigs as they came, and trying to remain sane with the pressure of it all. I was living with my friends, Tammy and Nechama, who also worked at the Heritage House, and once the COVID lockdowns hit, we pretty much ran the place 24-7.
Once school went online, I started falling behind. I couldn’t ask the same questions that I would’ve in a live classroom, and had a very hard time structuring my studying time without being on location.
Jump to August, when my brother’s wedding took place in the states. I cried watching Julie & Julia on the plane home (which is a comedy-drama, btw…), and I’m not really sure why, but I just got this feeling of relief and anticipation of change (little did I know…) at the same time.
I was surprised at my brother’s chuppah by a guy who I’d dated earlier in the year, and we dated seriously for a little while, which required lots of traveling on both our parts. Sadly, that relationship didn’t pan out. I wrote about it here, in case you want to all the juicy aftermath details. (No need to ask twice.)
Once I settled at home, exhaustion hit me and I slept for 11 hours a night, slowly letting go of nearly every responsibly that I had been carrying in Israel. I still felt weak and tired even with so much sleep and lack of responsibility, and after going to some doctors, I ended up with a probable diagnosis of Lyme disease (it’s difficult to diagnose 100% accurately unless you want to pay a couple thousand, which I felt was unnecessary). I visited the chiropractor who balanced my hormones and reversed my adrenal fatigue 6 years ago, and landed up with a cocktail of supplements which I’ve been taking since. They’ve slowly helped me feel like a new person.
Dealing with Lyme disease and the autoimmune challenges that come with it has been seriously intense. I believe that every illness has an emotional component to it, and that our bodies store our traumas/negative emotions and thinking patterns inside diseases. (Cue Dr. Sarno, but imagine him as a gentle, loving mom, because his approach can trigger some harsh self-analysis at first.) Meaning, it’s possible that I got Lyme Disease from a tick bite, but the fact that it effected me so deeply and for so long (I had the symptoms for 4 years) was an indicator to me that my body was stopping itself from healing because the emotional component remained unaddressed.
With this in mind, doubled with the event of my recent breakup, I dove head first into babying my heart. Along with weekly visits to the Dr. Chaya Binah Samuels, I enrolled in The Personal Development School, where I learned about attachment theory and how to break out of codependence.
Following that, I bought some new clothing and started dressing properly and doing my hair, something I had a hard time with in Israel due to the heat and my strenuous schedule. (Oh, and I found matte lipstick that stays on all shabbos!) I also transformed my room, which my brother had been living in since I made aliyah. Here’s the before and after:
Then came coaching. I called on two mentors, one who has unusual insight into the spiritual side of things and the other who is very grounded while also energetically attuned, who offered me weekly conversations to increase my self-awareness and explore my experiences.
Voice lessons came next. I had been dreaming about going to lessons for years, but hadn’t found someone who could help me sing without getting hoarse. Elena Tal turned out to be an incredible teacher, and the lessons helped me to begin owning my own voice again, both literally and figuratively.
I added on guided meditations shortly after that (here’s a channel that I like), and continued journaling, something I had formerly been pretty commited to.
At some point, I realized that I didn’t just want to have a clean body, but a clear slate, so I made some calls to people I either felt I had wronged or had been wronged by, and we spoke things out. Not gonna to lie, that was really hard.
Addressing my renewed energy and desire to feel stronger, I began hiking and swimming on alternating days of the week. Hiking is still painful for me, due to the Lyme (that’s why I rode a bike instead of walking in Israel), but I’ve been recovering faster than I used to, and swimming is great relief for joint pain while still allowing me to build muscle. I feel like a walking miracle (haha… literally). The fact that I have enough energy to get through the day AND exercise, too, fills me with gratitude.
BUT WAIT… there’s more.
Yannah Faith Popovitz, who lives in Israel, was offering a free EFT/tapping therapy session through Zoom, so I signed up. The session left me with amazing clarity and significantly more energy, so I continued to work with her for two months. I loved the work because it allowed me to arrive at breakthroughs through my own thoughts and words instead of insights from others.
Finally, last week, I began to work directly on my joint pain through Somatic Therapy with Rachel Wormeli. I’ve only had one session so far, which was painfully deep but very releasing, and I came out with some helpful breathing techniques as well.
OK… now I’m done…
But it’s not really over, because with all these self-development tools and the people guiding me through them, I started recognizing the significance of listening to what feels right for me. Things I didn’t have clarity on before have become less blurry, and I began giving greater credence to my intuition. As I told Yannah after our last session, “I feel like I gave so much attention to my inner-child that my adult self can actually talk now.”
This, however, only makes things tricky, because now I have to figure out what I actually want. There are more options than I can wrap my head around, and I’m finding it hard to narrow them down to practicality.
You know what’s crazy? All this took place outside of Israel. My heart and soul are in Israel, but so is a large chunk of my identity, and just like I had to learn my way out of codependence in human relationships, I now have to learn my way out of over-identifying with anything that’s not core to who I am. And that is easier said than done. Nechama, who came back to Baltimore shortly before me, is making aliyah next month, and I’m just dreaming of joining her. I keep tempting the notion of going back tomorrow, or next week, or in a month, but I realize that it’s better for me to be here right now.
I can’t go back to the way things were. City living stresses me out; I am so much calmer in nature. I need to be more financially stable and get more academic support if I decide to continue my studies. I have to decide if I want to study my field in the states instead of Israel, and now that I’m on a health journey of my own, I’ve seen some of the limitations of medicine and streamlined healing modalities (as well as their strengths), and I question whether my personal strengths aren’t more suited for the emotional approaches to health.
Nearly every person I’ve met in the past 8 months has told me to “just push and finish school, because you may not have a chance later,” but I just don’t buy it. The emotional and physical price I was paying for school was more than I was able to afford, and besides, that philosophy is manmade and goes on the premise that we know what is in store for us. There is a time for everything, and I don’t believe in a G-d who wants me to kill myself over my goals. Anyone will tell you that life is the greatest teacher, but we live by a different motto, simply obsessed with success and productivity. I fell deeply into that mindset.
I’d been following the timeline which I believed was correct, forcing the pieces of my life to fit together like squares into circles. I’ve been walking upstream, thinking myself to be living life to its fullest by willingly inviting major challenges my way. All these experiences and the subsequent crash brought me to where I am now: more real with myself and embracing of a G-d who wants me to be ok, even comfortable.
So… that’s the shpiel. I don’t know when I’ll head back to Israel, but I feel change in the air and I know that there’s order within this chaos. If you made it to the end of this post, your attention span is a lot longer than mine. Go you! And thanks for reading my thoughts out on the World Wide Web. I hope my experiences have brought you something relatable to take with you into your day.