On Succos, we gather our crops, reflect on our harvest. In life, we gather our experiences, appreciate what we’ve gained
"It’s not fair.” I pressed a hand to my eyes. I sounded like a five-year-old. The fact that I just had my third child didn’t seem to make my thought process any more mature. But the fact that I’d just suffered through my third bout of postpartum depression seemed to validate my childish outlook.
Rivky looked me in the eye, “What’s not fair?”
“Life. Life’s not fair. All my friends are easily having kids, one after another, and I’ve suffered Gehinnom with each birth. And there doesn’t seem to be any hope of it easing for my future family either. Why do I have to suffer so much when others have it so easy?”
I paused and groped for the ever-present tissue box. “I know, I know, everyone has different nisyonos in life. But I never signed up for this, and I don’t want it! I feel like saying, ‘Sorry, I can’t handle this. Please return to sender.’ ”
Rivky hadn’t become a top family therapist by getting intimidated by cynics like me. She was sharp, sifting through my thoughts and feelings, pinpointing strengths and weakness. She was persistent, demanding focus and participation. And, most important, she was genuinely caring.
In tandem, we pieced together the fragments of my anger, bitterness, and hopelessness. I felt like a victim, but Rivky wouldn’t allow me to wallow. Each session was structured with goals, strategies, and exercises. I left invigorated, only to return the following week, deflated.
Progress was agonizingly slow, and on the surface I saw no change. But as my baby reached his milestones of smiling, crawling, and walking, I, too, realized I could celebrate milestones. The happiness I felt when hearing a classmate had twins. The inner tranquility I maintained with three kids and chicken pox. Growth was beginning to show. Over two years after I first stepped into her office, I shared with her the most important milestone: I was expecting and thrilled.
That child is now 15. He’s a challenging kid. Diagnosed with ODD and ADHD, there have been lots of bumps in the road. During these years, I’ve wandered in and out of Rivky’s office. Sometimes for a one-time brainstorming session, other times for a five-week spurt to overcome a hurdle.
Yet, I was slowly realizing I no longer needed Rivky to shore me up when things got tough. Instead I was leaning on myself, using my inner intuition to respond to my doubts, insecurities, and frustrations.
My nephew was just accepted to a top yeshivah. My best friend’s son just made a siyum on Shas. But I’ve learned the truth: How I view life and it’s challenges is up to me. It doesn’t matter if life sometimes seems unfair. What matters is being fair to myself and my life.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 712)
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