Family First Inbox: Issue 812| September 28, 2022
“With brave people like you sounding the alarm, hopefully by the time my children are parents, it will change. It must change”
Quitting My Job [Musings / Issue 810]
My jaw dropped when I read Chava Berger’s article on how she decided to stop working. You see, I’d decided to quit my job on Thursday, which was not an easy decision financially or emotionally. I literally gave my boss notice on Friday morning. When I sat down to read the Family First on Friday night, I was completely drained.
I flipped to Chava’s article and I was shocked. It felt like a hug from Hashem that I made the right decision. So Chava, you aren’t the only person who’s free to spend time with family now. Feel free to give me a buzz whenever things get to be too much!
H.W., Clifton, NJ
Addiction Is the Solution [Inbox / Issue 810]
I wanted to applaud the letter writer who asked why the story on addiction didn’t indicate that there were issues causing the writer’s addiction, and not that the addiction is the problem on its own (although I think the story did allude to issues that might have triggered the addiction.)
This is a common misunderstanding with addiction and any addicting mental or emotional issue, which is also, interestingly, usually the solution and not the problem. What do I mean? As someone who has suffered from pure OCD, anxiety, and depression, I finally came to realize that the issues in my life triggered these patterns, because this was my brain’s way of protecting me from my emotions, which alcohol and drugs do for their users as well. I realized my obsessive, repetitive thoughts served a similar purpose to alcohol. As soon as I learned to safely connect to my feelings and validate myself, the pattern would be interrupted. Bigger issues would cause more intense responses, while smaller ones would cause ruminating.
Recovery wasn’t easy, but once I realized that these behaviors were my subconscious brain trying to protect me, I realized solving the root of the problem was more productive than labeling myself as obsessive compulsive and working to eliminate symptoms. I realized that listening to music or a validating friend or therapist brought the biggest relief and connection to my feelings and ultimately, Hashem. Yes, recovering is a spiritual process.
Free of Obsessive Thinking
Marriage Buddies [How I Saved My Marriage / Issue 810]
I was so inspired by the three women who worked hard to save their marriages and grateful that the program I started, Marriage Buddies, was mentioned.
If anyone would like more information on becoming a mentor or mentee in this volunteer program, in which women married more than ten years provide “buddy support” to those married less than ten years (and fit other criteria), please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Flip Side [Inbox / Issue 810]
I found myself nodding along with the letter writer who decried the way we sometimes imply a binary choice between the comforts of the diaspora and the spiritual rewards of Eretz Yisrael. While she went on to describe her comfortable life in Israel, I’d like to emphasize the flip side, which is that not everyone who lives outside of Eretz Yisrael does so because they have succumbed to the lure of Western materialism.
Some people have chosen to live near their yeshivah, or where they feel they can best be mechanech their children, or near their aging parents, or even, yes, where their parnassah is — because making a living is also a thing. Many of these people have discussed these life choices with their moreh derech and are making the best available choice.
We can extol the virtues of Eretz Yisrael without implying that anyone who hasn’t made the move worships money or air-conditioned SUVs. You can find idealistic people in Lakewood and Yerushalayim, and materialistic people in Brooklyn and Bnei Brak.
People are complex, which is why we love being introduced to the full gamut of human experience in these pages.
Name Withheld, from Lakewood
It Must Change [Words Unspoken / Issue 810]
Dear Someone Ready for Change,
As a mother of three with invisible disabilities, I too am ready for change. I’m very happy your parents found you and your sister the right schools, and I’m sorry no local schools wanted to accept you because of your invisible disabilities. What a shame.
This is not a new problem — but with brave people like you sounding the alarm, hopefully by the time my children are parents, it will change. It must change.
Our mosdos must be held accountable for providing a welcoming, appropriate environment for all learners. This includes hiring trained staff, not just teachers who rely on therapists for “problem kids,” and taking a strong anti-bullying stance.
My son travels daily to Manhattan for high school, having survived eight years of being told he was defective, sensitive, or just too smart for his own good. My youngest, seven, travels to Long Island to a school for children with special needs, saving me the headache of many parents who make the brave choice to send their children to public school because they’ve had enough of trying to fit their child into a system that does not want them. My nine-year-old is on her third (hopefully last) school, after having been bullied by her peers and ignored by her teachers. When will it end? I have no idea.
Thank you for your strength.
A Burnt-out Mommy
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 812)
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