Since my last post, which I can’t even remember now, a lot has happened.
For anyone who is Jewish, especially a convert living outside the camp of a Jewish community, it is extremely hard. Just in case I have not said that already. I don’t recommend it and now I understand why Orthodox won’t allow it.
As I may (or may not) have mentioned before, Chabad.org has been my lifeline during times of despair and loneliness. I have no Jewish friends or potential Jewish partners available to me living out here in this desolate place. No community…no one to share ideas…no physically available Jew to learn from. Nothing except the virtual world.
In October of 2017, my father and I found my mother lying in a pool of her own blood at 2am. She was taken to the hospital and eventually died about a month later. She was in the advanced stages of cancer and none of us knew. But I was glad I was able to help care for her in her own home those last few weeks of her life. In April of this year, my father also fell and has been in a long term care facility ever since. He will need 24 hour care for the rest of his life…however long that is, since he too is also in the advanced stages of cancer.
I have lived with my parents since 2013, but because my father is in a long term care facility, I will have to sell his house and property…or at least, move out by October or November of this year. This will be when he can no longer be “private pay” and his properties will have to be sold to care for him. I have managed to secure an apartment, when it becomes available (which is supposed to be next month) but the emotional stress from all of this threw me into a place I thought I would never be.
Several weeks ago, I reached a point where suicide looked like a real possibly. I had entered into this state that a Chabad instructor called “atzvut”. That dangerous, hopeless, “I’m not going to do anything about this” form of depression that slowly eats you alive and you don’t even care. I had not even engaged in any Jewish learning, davening, lighting Shabbat candles, etc. since before last October. I gave up on davening around the same time because it seemed meaningless to me. “This is so stupid saying the same thing over and over” I thought at one point. I had lost interest in everything but at some point in this hopeless state I remembered a statement from this small book called “Shamati” which I had purchased several years ago…maybe because it was small and I just love pocket sized books. The statement: “A prayer is considered a deficiency, and without deficiency there is no fulfillment.”
Around this same time, I had spoken with a penpal via Skype who, unknowingly had given me some practical advice without ever realizing anything about the hopeless state I was in. I don’t know if she was just that unaware of what was going on or if I was just that good at hiding it.
In any case, I began davening again just to try to get out of this state. Early during the prayers for maariv, I think I literally laughed out loud. For the first time, I realized the “prayers” I was saying were not about me. They were not about the wretched state I was in…no pleads to take it all away…and for whatever reason I had this image pop in my head in which G-d was telling me “enough about you. I create day and night, rolling away the light before the darkness, and darkness before the light…Mi chamochah ba’alim Adonai, mi chamochah nedar bakodesh?…” Indeed, who is like You? By the time I finished davening the maariv service, the depression was gone.
Then I remembered the Chabad instructor saying “Depression stems from too much focus on the “I”…on me. To be clear, she was not referring to people who have clinical depression or medical issues that cause depression. For me at least, this was the root cause of my depression. I had spent so much time over the last few months wrapped up in everything that was going on with me…focusing on my own hardships, I had forgotten how to be grateful…I wasn’t even saying the Modah Ani anymore when I would awake in the mornings.
But I say it now…and I daven everyday again…Baruch HaShem for deficiencies.