books and reading · chronic pain/fibromyalgia · depression · gym · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · speaking

Miracles and Moodiness

I’ve been moody all week, swinging up and down riding this life rollercoaster without any Dramamine. I’ve been wildly whiny, throwing immature tantrums in front of my ever patient little sister and husband. I haven’t written a word for my book, the thought was too overwhelming. And I haven’t made it into the gym for a week, meaning I’ve been disrespectful to my body too.

The depression’s been hitting me kind of hard. Sure, it was incredible to speak at Brooklyn College last week and connect with so many cool people but at the same time, it was a reminder of the costs. Fibromyalgia cost me my full-time job as a teacher and possibly as a financially self-sufficient human being. Fibromyalgia means that after every speech, I feel like a truck hit me. But then again, how quickly I forget when I am down in the dumps that it was fibromyalgia that got me writing again.

But writing is a funny thing. Who would imagine that someone hyper sensitive to criticism would put themselves in a position to be constantly rejected? So much of freelance writing is about putting myself out there with the great likelihood that I’ll get burned in return. I’ve got many an essay collecting dust because editor after editor has said “lovely but it doesn’t work for our publication.” Ouch.

I’ve also been really stressed out about my book. I don’t know what I’m doing. Sure, I’m getting tons of positive feedback, but I know that when and if this book is published, there will also be negative feedback. Yikes, who wants to read a newspaper and find their name is up in lights for having written the worst book ever? Who wants to have their life attacked, picked apart and consumed like a feast of game hen? For someone who has never been very shy, has always been open (too open according to family members), I have suddenly developed what other people call “BOUNDARIES.”

And yet, it is often other people crossing those boundaries who remind me why this life is worth living. It is other people reaching across that invisible divide who remind me that the world is not such a terrible place, that for all its tragedies, there are constant ongoing miracles that touch us all every day. Today’s miracles included:

1. reading Tova Mirvis’s amazing book about the powerful effect a convert can have on the Jewish community, “The Ladies Auxiliary.” A year ago, I was utterly incapable of cracking a book open without experiencing excruciating pain. I discovered the joys of audio books but I always missed holding a book, the exquisite smell of the paper and curling back every sumptuous page.

2. spending Shabbos lunch with a friend, a fellow chronic pain suffer, who melted the icy layer around my heart this week with her angelic hands (ah, the joys of acupressure) and her incredible energy in the face of such adversity.

3. opening up fan letters from two perspective converts who said my story had resonated them and given them clarity. No, I don’t think this lifestyle is for everyone but I am grateful that my life for all its unmentionable horrors and as inexplicable beauty has been a comfort to others.

And with that, it’s time for some sweet dreams.

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