Everyone has a journey in life. Everyone has that special unique story that has occurred to them. Everyone has the challenges and hardships they went through.
Some think that their story is totally unique to them only, some think that no one understands them, some think that their story is their worst nightmare and they keep obsessing over why it happened to them, some just choose to bury it, and “move on”.
The real question is how did my story change me? What role do I play in my story? And what am I doing about it?
You see, my story is a complicated one. It’s long and twisted, but if I sat down and told you the story from beginning to end, you will find that it is not complicated at all. My whole life is just a series of consequences, one situation leading on to another. Most of my journey up until this point has been just one thing leading on to another just because it was.
In a tiny nut shell I will summarize where I am today. At the age of twenty-six I was divorced the week before my mom passed away and without a job due to depression and other factors. I was in middle of university studying towards my Bachelor in Commerce, and was being challenged in seeing my three adorable children. My father and I never got along, he got my siblings and most of my extended family to cut me out, and my only connection to my family was my maternal grandmother. My best friend of twenty-two years, turned a cold shoulder towards me, and his family decided to take my ex-wife’s side. I could not walk into the local super-market without getting names called out at me and getting blamed for my divorce and the unfortunate situation my ex was finding herself in. There are quite a few more details that I won’t get into, since you are starting to get the picture.
At first I had no clue what to do with myself. At first I was lost, and went on what is called a “tear”. I just rebelled against everything in the world, not caring about anything or anyone – including myself.
Now if you think this is going to be an article of self-pity, stop reading here. I would like to share with you something quite of the opposite. I would like to share with you some strength and hope for those who are going through similar situations.
I have come to learn, through lots of soul searching, ongoing therapy, and connection with new crowds; that everyone is going through different challenges in their lives. Although the details are not the same, but the general situations have commonalities that we all share. After all we are human and we do live in this world as well as being part of exile.
I was put into this world for a reason, God loves me, and he chose me to be trusted for my personal unique mission in life. As long as I have not fulfilled my part, and as long as I am still in this universe; the world cannot continue existing without me. I am a vital part of this universe only for today. Therefore suicide is ruled out, who am I to disrupt the world’s function and who am I to force God to move on to plan B?
The funny irony of things is that by nature some people tend to blame God right away anything seems to go wrong. Poor God, what did He do? Why is He being blamed right away? We then start praying and learning about trusting Him. This I found hard to understand. I connected myself to a mentor (Mashpia) who helped me through some difficult questions and issues I had with God. I came to realize how little I knew or understood God – that is when my true soul searching began. I learned one thing – God loves honesty! God loves me, and there is nothing I can do about it.
God is a loving God; He doesn’t do anything that ultimately won’t be to my benefit. All of a sudden all my years in Yeshiva, the countless Discourses and Talks (Maamarim and Sichot) from the Legacy of Rabbis I was brought up with. All the Tanya by heart, all the Talmud and every other script or prayer I have ever learned, started coming together and making sense from a whole new sense of light.
I don’t have to be the greatest scholar or Rabbi – I don’t have to commit to every single commandment, all I have to do, is do my part to my fullest in a balanced manner. If I feel overwhelmed, I should look carefully and examine where I got to relax in order to balance out. I am essentially a good person, and that is all that counts. I do realize that I am perfectly imperfect and that I will never be perfect because only God is perfect in his world, this is exactly how He desired the world to be, and so it was designed – perfectly imperfect.
Now here is where the fun began, my personal journey with working on myself (Avoda) in rebuilding my life in what seemed to me as broken into shreds at such a young age.
- I started connecting to myself and to my personal understanding of God, as an ultimate power that is all loving no matter what. I have come to realize that nothing is in my personal power and that all belongs to God – I therefore choose to hand over my will and my life to this “New” God I found, I feel safe with Him, since He won’t strike me down if I don’t meet my perceived expectation that He expects from me. God knows that I am perfectly imperfect, no matter what I do for Him, He is happy!
- I started connecting to people. In order to do so, I needed to find my perception of people. This took me some time; I started to list all the people that hurt me, how they have hurt me, and how it made me feel. Along this exercise I found that it takes two to tango, therefore I needed to work on finding, how did I play a role in their behaviors as well as what did I perceive they were doing; in other words, what was my part in it. I kept praying to God for honesty and humbleness to come to the real core of the problem. With this list, I found that I had a lot to do with the situation. Practically all I was thinking was either perceived in a certain way, or it was intensified by a way I acted. I came to learn, that even if the other was wrong for what they did, and my feelings were justified, however the way I went about it was wrong, and that is what needed to be corrected and changed. This is the real me! I am a good person and I look to do the next right step, even if the other party is wrong, that doesn’t mean I will be. After working on this part of my life; I actually slept so well for the very first time in my life. I started sleeping full nights. That pain in the middle of the chest, all of a sudden started disappearing. For the first time in my life, I really felt good; this feeling was so good that I started laughing so hard, full laughter. Thank God I live alone; otherwise whoever would have been there would think I absolutely lost my mind. Yes I did lose my mind, my old mind! I was starting to make a new connection with myself, with God and with people!
- Part of this new recovery is to make amends with the people I have hurt, the people that hurt me and making amends to me for hurting me. I will make amends to the people that hurt me, because I know that I did something to trigger them to react the way they did. Whether I was right or wrong, that is not of importance at this time. I need to clean my side of the street and I need to feel good and better about myself, because I am taking the right step. I conform to my new social group, my mentor and my therapist on how I can make these amends without hurting the other party. I also pray to God to help me be honest and truly feel the feeling of letting go, forgiving, being worthy of forgiveness and to be able to make amends with someone whom I originally didn’t like or have resentments towards. I learned that resentments only hurt me, I need to get rid of that, and the only one that can help me with that is God Almighty.
- A huge part of my recovery is connecting with people that I would like to learn from, this is the laws of attraction. I became a strong believer of “tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are!” This is a lesson my grandfather once taught me, and only today I respect it and admire this line. It is so true. “Laws of attraction” play a huge role in the way we behave, think and eventually become. I connect very strongly with positivity, and it is addictive once we really get involved. I stay in contact and every time I feel hurt or disturbed I pick that phone up and call my new friend. These are real friends they will pick up the phone at any given time and be super happy I called (yes believe it or not, these people do exist!) and they are not bothered that you called at four in the morning!
- Prayer is another step that I started taking. This type of prayer is not the prayer book prayer (Siddur) this is personal intimacy with God, I talk to Him one on one, in my own language in my own way. This is also known as “Hidbodedout” (and no, it is not only a Breslev thing) the powers of intimacy with God, goes beyond anything I can ever start describing. I have found a whole new light, a whole new way of life. All of a sudden everything seems to go right on track, all of a sudden God is really listening, and God is really there. Through my soul searching, I learned the real meaning of intimacy, I learned how to treat people right, I learned how not to expect anything from anyone, nor to try to manipulate anyone to do as I please. These were all self-defense measures that I had to adapt in order to survive my upbringing and my past. But as I just said, this was in the past. Now going forward, I don’t need these self-defense characteristics, today I have the ability and the independence I need in order to be myself and do the right thing. I have God to guide me and I pray to God not to take away my challenges, my defects of character and not to change His plan for the world, because I trust that He doesn’t make mistakes and He is perfect. What I do pray for is that He should give me the tools, energy, courage and wisdom I need in order to overcome my adversities and challenges. I trust that God gives me what I can handle and God gives me the tools I need. This brings me to gratitude, writing ten things I am grateful for every morning when I wake up, helped me beyond my wildest imagination. Journaling at night, writing all that happened throughout my day, and then meditating and praying to God to help me through my difficulties and thanking him for all the good that I have. This is my new connection to God. Let me tell you, it is an amazing feeling!
- Every person needs to feel needed, special, and useful to society. There is nothing more fulfilling than giving back. I started volunteering where ever I can, I carry out the message of my recovery, and I share new things I learn. Not to boost my ego, nor to try to save anyone, simply and for the only reason of giving back. My daily affirmation is to live my life, to act as a role-model. If people catch on, good for them, if I was able to help anyone, thank God for trusting me as a servant and vessel to transmit His message. With all that, I do it for myself and for the honor of God. This brings me joy in life, this makes my day fulfilling.
Don’t get me wrong, these steps I take are super hard to follow, don’t think that I follow them to the tee, remember that I am perfectly imperfect , I can only do my best. Of course I have my low days, I have those days where I am depressed, I still have my fears, I still think of how sorry I am for hurting my wife in whatever way I did, I still worry about who will marry me and what kind of girl I will find. I have my way of thinking of how women think and act. The only difference is; I know that that way of thinking is wrong and corrupt! I am taking the next right step, I trust God to find me the right woman for me, and for forgiving my past. I believe that there are amazing women out there. For today I am alive, I am grateful and I am connecting to my new found friends. I am also learning which of my older friends to trust and reconnect with. I cannot change anything else – other than my own outlook and my own attitude. Today I chose to smile and be as happy as I can.