Monday, October 31, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-changes

If when you think about me, what is it that comes into your head?

Reformed rebel?  Regular Joe-anne?  Frum?  Not frum?  Faker?  Sincere?  Slut?

A high-born Dwarf once gave the following advice to the Bastard son of a nobleman (in a time when being a bastard was as low as you can go):

Dwarf: "Let me give you some advice bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you."

Bastard: "What the hell do you know about being a bastard?"

Dwarf: "All dwarfs are bastards in their father's eyes."

My past.  If I wear it like armor, it can never be used to hurt me.  Run away from who I am?  Shit, I embrace who I am.  Who I am is everything to me.  My identity.  My whole purpose.

But what am I?  Reformed rebel? Regular Joe-anne? Frum? Not frum? Faker? Sincere? Slut?

I am all of these things and none of them.  These are labels.  They are words on a computer screen.  They are general ideas.  They are all parts of me but do not serve to define me.

Who am I?

I'm the one who fell off the derech early.  Who drank, drugged and slept her way through adolescence.  Who sank so low that her own parents threatened to disown her if she didn't turn her life around.

Maybe I don't write that too much anymore, maybe you have forgotten - but that's still a part of who I am.

A part.

As the aspiring rapper "B Rabbit" rapped at his enemy:

"Don't ever try to judge me dude,
you don't know what the fuck I've been through"

What do you think of me  - when you think about me at all?  When you read a post of mine that makes you laugh, or cry, or shake your head in disgust?  When you wonder about the choices I've made (or make still)?

Did you know that I've been keeping Shabbos for the last like 6 months? Totally and completely (no cheating in my room with the phone or computer).  Does that change how you think of me?

Did you know that I've been keeping kosher for almost as long?  Hell, maybe not your kosher.  Maybe I'll eat a salad in a non kosher restaurant, bugs and knife and olive oil and all.  But it's better than the grilled chicken salad I'd have ordered 6 months ago no?  Better than eating breakfast in diners no? Does that change how you think of me?

Do you know that I hate Apple?  I hate how they control what music you can put on your Ipod.  So when my Ipod broke I switched.  Now I use a Sony "Walkman".  Way retro right?  (or so I've been told by old people)  Does that change how you think of me?

I have a rule (learned from my father) - I treat everyone the same.  From the president of the company to the janitor (his examples) or from the shop owner to the lowly stock girl (my example), everyone should get the same courtesy.  Does that change how you think about me?

I have a piercing in my belly button.  How about that?

Or that I've contemplated "playing tennis" with my boyfriend before we tie the knot.  So much so that people were instructing me on going to the mikvah to prevent giant karmic stains on my soul.  I bet that changes how you think about me.

Or that I eventually decided against tennis.  How about THAT?

"All dwarves are bastards in their father's eyes."

And all rebels are bastards in their mother's eyes.

I know what it's likes to be judged.  I've been judged by the best.  I wear it.  Like armor. 

But it still hurts.

Judgement.  Her judgement.  People I don't know.  I expect it, I know it's coming (or there already) but it hurts the same.

Et tu? 

Why must others set the bar so damn high?  So I'll fail?  So I'll become so disparaged I'll give up?  I'm sorry if I disappoint.  I really am.  But I am not sure I can ever meet anyone else's expectations.  Sometimes I worry that I will fail to reach my own.  But it's very possible that the comfort zone I will eventually find won't meet your approval. 

And then you can think of me as a disappointment.

But.  Every single day I don't slide backwards is a victory. Every inch forward a battle won. Every single day I try and touch the bar (set lowly) and try to raise it a quarter of an inch higher. Slow progress. Nothing sexy.  Slow and steady wins the race.

My race - not yours.  My victories, not yours.

Judge me if you must.  I'm used to being judged.  I wear it like armor.

But don't forget that you don't know what the fuck I've been through.

10 comments:

  1. They set the bar so high because they are wrong. They do know who you are. They have some idea of what you've been though. And therein lies their error.

    Assuming the high-bar-setters care about you (and if not, why set the bar at all? why not just let you get the fuck away?), they watch you. They watch not with judgement and disappointment, but with love and hope. And you have given them very great reason to hope, and behold, that hope has run away with them. For they have forgotten, or perhaps they have never known, the way to grow greatly and gradually, which is the only way to grow great. And they see you have traveled a mighty journey, and so they think you have arrived at what they think ought to be your destination. Because in their love, they want your destination to be their destination, and they forget that you are both on a journey together, and each must take his own path to self and goodness.

    And in their hope and impatience, they set you a bar that you may be where they are, that you may be with them.

    Load of sentimental claptrap, but I don't know how else to say it. And it's true, in all of its awful, awful sappiness. Pardon me while I go throw up in my mouth from my saccharine and then return to watch you with my own eyes. Which, I suppose, share that spark of hope, as well. But hope all too easily turns to patronizing and judgement, and so I keep my eyes as they were when they first found your blog: filled with interest.

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  2. Winner of the nicest comment ever award....

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  3. First of all, I apologize if at any time I sounded as patronizing or judging.

    For me, you are a Role Model. Not because I've been in the same places/circumstances - I haven't. But because you've managed to overcome a lot of things that could have dragged you down. Your stories inspire me to do better than I do now. Whether religiously or relationship-wise (be it with spouse or my kid).

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  4. PS: this is the most meaningful post of them all (after reading them all).

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  5. COJ - Thnx. I'd respond in greater detail to you speficically if I had a less public way of responding to you.

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  6. You already know what *I* think... Now... how did the Great Sunday Brunch go?!

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  7. Er, never mind, just saw it. But in any case - do your thing, and don't worry what everyone else thinks! Life is too short for that.

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  8. Whats wrong with playing tennis? Wearing a short skirt?

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  9. You might be new to my blog. Check this post out...

    http://cymbaline91.blogspot.com/2011/08/theres-lack-of-lets-call-ittennis-in-my.html

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  10. Your past is a huge part of who you are. You wouldn't be the person you are today without it.

    I'm not sure who is judging, but I read your blog. I see how far you've come. I see the positive comments. And I think you're an amazing person, and you're doing great.

    Why does it matter what those who are judging you think?

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