Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ibiza Bar

"I'm so afraid
Of mistakes that I've made
Shaking every time that I awake...


And if I live where I'm left
On the shelf like the rest
And the epilogue reads like a sad song"


I'm not sure this post will ever see the light of day.  I'm not sure if it's a good idea to post this or not.  I'm not sure if every secret and thought and worry in my head is the property of all of you.  Nothing personal, really.

But this is my journal.  This is the place where I put down my thoughts and my feelings - the place where, after they have turned around in my head for many sleepless nights, I have the ability to read my feelings.  Literally.  To see what I was feeling in a moment in time and gain a new perspective.

Decision making is about perspective.  Seeing all sides and making a decision.  So here goes.

David's grandfather came to this country after the Second World War.  A survivor of both pre-war Europe and the camps, he came to this country with nothing other than the clothes on his back.  No money, no family.  Just a work ethic and a faith in God.  A man who survived the death camps and the atrocities of the Nazis kept his faith in God.  Although not a very religious man, being a Jew meant something to him

He worked and saved until he was able to buy a pushcart and some materials.  He turned this into a small business selling his wares.  Eventually he had enough money to start a factory, which he bought a few years later.  His original small business eventually became a pretty successful real estate operation all over the U.S.

Though his life changes dramatically over time, one thing didn't.  His faith.  His belief in God.  Though never overly observant (he kept Shabbos, Kosher, etc, but never to any extremes), he made sure to marry a woman with the same belief system.  This was passed to his children. 

To this day, the large majority of the family is observant.  They also place God and Judaism on a high perch.  They are what you would all call modern orthodox (for example his mother wears pants and doesn't cover her hair) but they sincerely believe what they believe.  There's no fakery (ahem, Mother, ahem).

Which leads to my dilemma

At this point in my life, I do not really share these same set of beliefs.  I do believe God (the Jewish God) created the world.  After that....eh.

Right now, David is focusing on the...newness of our relationship.  We've graduated from being really good friends to being a couple.  We are spending time together (lots) and really, really enjoying each other's company.  And it's all wonderful.  Really wonderful.

But the good times never last.  Winter is always coming. 

And soon...whether in a week, a month a year....he's going to realize that this girl he's seeing doesn't quite share his beliefs.  The girl he might one day want to bring home to be part of his family (oh let it be so) doesn't have the same principles and ideals that he holds so dear. 

And then what?

Then there will be a choice for both of us to make to make

There are three paths I see.  I can tell him I cannot be the believer he want.  I can't pretend to be observant, even to low levels.  I can't fake through the prayers or even light candles on Friday.  And he will have to either live with that or not.  That's path one.

Path Two:  Would you live a lie for the man you love?

 I can lie.  I can tell him I believe.  That I'm willing to commit to being religious.  That I say the prayers and I mean them.  That I want the kids to go to day schools and yeshivas and be the best Jews ever.  And he'll be thrilled.  Life will be so grand.

Until the years go by and I can't take the charade anymore, can no longer play the game.  And then I become the biggest disappointment in his life.  And the kids (oh let it be so) are confused.  Why is mommy different than daddy?  And he hates me.  And I hate me too.  And the dream crumbles to ruin and despair.

Or.

I have been searching.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't hate Judaism.  I don't hate God.  If there's one thing I know from personal experience it's that living a life without faith, without belief, is an empty life.  Living just for yourself is almost valueless.  How can you bring up children and tell them there's nothing greater out there, that there's no true purpose to life? 

I WANT TO BELIEVE. 

The problem is, I need to get there rationally.  I have to believe what I believe (if you take my meaning).  I can't take it on faith alone.  I understand at some level there must be a leap of faith - but I can't simply make the leap - I have to bring myself to the brink and then jump.

I want to find my comfort level within Judaism.  I have been looking for it.  I've been reading, I've been talking to people who shared my issues.  I've listened to their points and proofs.  I'm not there yet.  But I am working on it, make no mistake.

But I know I have a short window of time.  From the moment David snaps out of his love induced coma (yea right) and starts thinking with his brain, I won't have forever to convince him that I'm not the same person who spent so many hours railing against god and religion to him in my worse times. 

But.

If I can come to God on my own.  If I can find my place.  Then the only thing, the only person I want in this world will be happy.  And really, that's what I want.  I want him to be happy.  I want him to want to be with me for all the reasons - with no worries, doubts or issues.  I don't want the Sword of Damocles hovering over us starting on day one.  I don't want him living with the albatross. 

So why haven't I slept in days?  Because I know this storm is coming.  I know that soon the clock will start ticking and then time will begin running out.  So there's even more pressure to find what I'm looking for.

I want to spend my life with the man I love.  Is that so much to ask for?  Is it so beyond?  Or will this end up being another example of how my life generally sucks?

And that is why I don't sleep.

3 comments:

  1. I feel for you. In a sort of similar boat with religion. I think what's important is to establish a baseline, commonly agreed standards of observance at home and out (i.e. kashrut, shabbat, niddah). And then, time will tell. But be open about this. And respect his belief and observance - don't discount it. At the same time he must respect your belief and observance level, and should understand that there's no guarantee that your observance will increase over time.

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  2. I've been reading since the beginning of your blog but never commented before. FWIW, I think you write well. This issue finally inspired me to comment: why are these the only choices? Why cant you agree to do some negotiated amount as observance in action (e.g., as COJ above said, kashrus, shabbos nidah) -- no statement that you believe, no promises for the future, just agree to a baseline and see how it goes. I have seen more than one marriage like this and seen them work, producing a happy relationship, happy children and happy in-laws. As long as both sides are upfront what they will do and what they think, no one is living a lie and perhaps it can be made to work. I say this as a strongly committed and observant Orthodox Jew who wants the result of you believing. But I'm not suggesting (and would not suggest) that you live a lie -- I just think there is another choice and would be sad to see you lose your happiness if there is a way to get there.

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  3. There can be value in observance for connection. You can do things because they are what's done. You can be a part of what's going on in the Jewish community. You can make a life with David and light candles to connect with him and with the Jewish people. This isn't faking. As long as you are honest with yourself and with those who matter about your reasons, you aren't lying.

    When you eventually have the conversation with David, you can be honest with him about where you are now, that you want to believe and want to find your place in Judaism. Don't assume you know what he wants. Don't assume you know how he will react to what you tell him. You can let him listen to you and then you can listen to him.

    Sometimes belief comes through observance and connection. And if it doesn't, you still have connection.

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