Before I made aliya, I had awful eczema. My feet stank. I had backaches. I felt like an old lady, even though I was a teenager.
Then I came to Israel. Dairy didn’t bother me anymore. I lost weight (in a good way). My feet no longer stank (except during summer visits to Toronto). My eczema got better. My back got better.
Most of these changes I associated with the fresher air, fresher food, and better quality lifestyle in general. Israelis, on the whole, eat less junk than Americans. The dairy and meat is fresher. The vegetables and fruits are fresher.Israelis also exercise more, and spend less time in front of screens. (Well. That is changing. But this is what it was when I came.)
The stinky feet I knew were stress-related. Okay, fine. No biggie.
In the past month or so – maybe less – my eczema has come back. It’s awful. I had these huge red, itchy squares on my inner elbows. Huge. The rash I had on the back of my neck, when I was pregnant with Tova – came back, different and worse. My hands were full of little bubbles of clear pus, and my fingers were red and itchy. Even the outsides of my ears were purple and peeling.
I tried to think what I was eating wrong. How had I changed my diet? Is this just heat rash? If it’s heat rash, why is it so much worse this summer than any of the previous summers?
I couldn’t figure it out.
I put creams. This cream, that cream. Washed it often with soap and water, or just water. Tried to let the affected areas air out, or dry out in front of the fan. Nothing worked.
On Friday, my brother told me to go to hell. To get out of his life. That’s it, he doesn’t want me around.
It was hard. I was upset, and hurt. He’s the fourth person in my family to do this to me. My father didn’t tell us explicitly. He just doesn’t answer. My mother told Yitzchak and I never to contact her or my siblings again, if we insisted on getting married when we’d planned (after we’d pushed our wedding off 5 times, to accommodate her). She eventually backtracked on that, and allowed us contact . . . but never told my siblings she’d told this to us. They continued believing what they were told – that we didn’t care, we didn’t want to be in touch – and then one day, we did. That’s what they were told. That’s what they believe(d).
Then Esther didn’t like what I was saying. And then I told her to take Tova’s personal info offline. That was it. She blocked my emails and forbade me from ever contacting her again.
And now this.
I am not such an awful person that I deserve this. Sometimes I think I am. After all, four people have done this to me . . . maybe I deserve it?
But no. I do not deserve this. I have murdered no one. I have not stolen, embezzled, raped, or molested. I have not abused drugs, alcohol, or anything else.
My father tossed us out of his life. All of us. That is his issue, not mine. And not my siblings’, either.
My mother tried to force Yitzchak and I to break up. She told everyone that I didn’t care about them, fed them lies with their food. I did make some mistakes, but the underlying problem was hers, not mine. I should not have to choose between parents and siblings, and my spouse.
My sister, well, I might have pushed her too far. But she has so many issues. So many. Those issues are not my fault. They have nothing to do with me. Whatever. She can do what she wants. I am here if she wants me.
My brother, maybe I pushed him too far. But the real reason he wants me out of his life, is that he believes that I cut him, and everyone else, out of my life all those years ago. He knows that’s not true. But that’s why he’s mad. That’s why he wants nothing to do with me. Also, because he thinks I tricked him. Haven’t figured that one out yet. What he saw is what there is. I tricked no one.
And if he is threatening me, and telling me to get out of his life – he can never, ever, ever claim again that I cut anyone out of my own life.
I am vindicated.
I cried. It hurt. But I took a deep breath and said, “This is his issue, not mine.” If he chooses my path, he will stay in Israel and adopt one of my cousins and her husband (or Yitzchak and I) as surrogate parental figures. As older siblings. As mentors. As role models.
If he does not, if he insists on denying the issues, he will follow Esther’s path and he will end up like her.
There is nothing I can do about it. And I do not have enough emotional resources to spend time thinking about it, when I can do absolutely nothing.
After I decided that, it wasn’t easy.
But every time the subject came up – in conversation with Yitzchak or in my thoughts – I reminded myself that I cannot do anything, and therefore stressing myself out is stupid.
I took a deep breath, said, “What will be, will be. He will do what he wants. If he wants me, he knows where to find me.” And I changed the subject and moved on.
In less than 48 hours, the rashes on my elbows and hands were 80% gone. They were no longer red or itchy. They had practically healed. My ears had healed 50%. My neck – 50%.
No creams. No special treatments.
Just letting go, and remembering that I can only help myself.
I cannot help anyone else, unless they want to be helped.
I am doing the best I can, for myself, for my husband and kids, and for my siblings and the world around me. I am doing what I need to be doing, in order to heal and become a healthier person.
No one can take that away.
Those who will support it – are positive people, who care.
Those who oppose it – are people who are either jealous, or resentful, of the path that I have chosen. Those people – if they are not related to me, I toss them away. I don’t need them. I don’t owe them. They can go to Azazel.
If they are related to me, I try to keep the lines open. I try to reach out and help. Even if it costs me a lot. It does cost me a lot. And no one understands how much, except perhaps Yitzchak.
This past month of worrying, of stressing, of wondering how to help . . . of laying awake at night . . . it took a tremendous toll, physically and emotionally. On me – but also on my family.
To be tossed out like that – it hurts. But maybe it is for the best.
I should not have been losing so much sleep. I should not have been worrying so much. But I get too emotionally involved in the people I try to help. It’s a problem. A big problem.
So I am here for those who want.
Those who don’t want – I can’t help anyways.
But I am done stressing. I am done worrying, going gray, hair-pulling . . . for people who don’t want me in their lives, anyways.
If he wants me, he knows where to find me. Even at 3am.
And I am going to listen to my body. Like I tell Shlomo . . . listen to your body.
The rashes weren’t because of my diet. They were because I was stressed.
Yeah, my life is stressful. It has been for a while. But I guess this was a different kind of stress. A kind of stress that I just can’t handle.
So I am going to listen . . . and stop stressing about people who don’t want my help, anyways . . . because it is easier for them to stay in their little box, where it is familiar, and blame me for cutting them off.
I am going to be healthy. I am going to be whole. I am going to heal.
And whoever wants – is invited to join me.