Still Here| December 16, 2020
You get up the next morning and you head into your day, and you act like a normal person with normal problems
Seven years later, we’re still here.
I thought it was a crisis that was going to pass. I thought we would get over the worst of it. I thought it would “get better.” In fact, I thought that all the advice we got was intended to make it go away.
But seven years later, we’re still here.
The secret that nobody tells you is that it really might not get better. You just get used to the insanity, like a lobster in a pot, slowly and incrementally adjusting as the heat rises.
Every few months or every few days, or maybe every few hours, you freak out and your stomach bottoms out and you completely lose it. You tell yourself you can’t handle it anymore, that you weren’t made for this, that G-d has the wrong target.
And then somehow or other, you drag yourself back up off the street, bruised and limping, and stumble back home, where, impossibly, you move on.
You get up the next morning and you head into your day, and you act like a normal person with normal problems.
But the truth is that you’re not a normal person with normal problems. You’re a crazy person who has gotten used to chillul Shabbos and drugs and Arby’s. You go to Costco and drive Bais Yaakov car pool and buy chalav Yisrael milk, and also face ugly tattoos and piercings that are hard to even look at.
Maybe the saddest part is that you’re not even in acute pain anymore; you’ve adjusted to this bizarre dreamlike state where nothing makes sense and everything is upside down. And seven years later, you’re not in crisis and it’s just your life. You wake up to this and deal with it and don’t have a crisis but look yourself in the mirror every day and say: This is me. This is my life. This is my family and this is my day and this is my reality.
In a way that’s even harder than being in crisis mode. In crisis mode you’re infused with adrenaline and cortisol. Time stops. There are frantic phone calls to experts and therapists because somehow you desperately believe there is a secret way out of this mess, a trapdoor you can escape through that so far you haven’t discovered, but most definitely will.
But here you are, seven years later, and you’re so weary. You know there’s no trapdoor. There’s no secret passageway and there’s nowhere to run or hide. And in a way that acceptance is serene and calm, but in another way it’s bleak and dull and depressing. Because crises pass, but this is just the way it is. And maybe it’s the way it will always be.
Then you have to remind yourself that G-d never has the wrong target. You’re the soldier in this mission because you need to be the soldier in this mission. And that if you had even the smallest glimmer of opportunity to run away from this, you would abort mission immediately. But since you have no choice, since the mythical secret passageway has mysteriously vanished, you stay. You stay and you deal.
You pray and you try, and you grow into the person you never thought you could be. Crises pass, but some missions last a lifetime.
Am I ready? I don’t know. But G-d never has the wrong target, so I’m in. I’m all in. And that’s what I know today.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 722)
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