chronic pain/fibromyalgia · depression · happiness · Jews/Jewish/Judaism/Orthodox Judaism · pesach · teaching · writing

Let Freedom Ring

I remember the taste of freedom. After running away from home, after kidnapping and winning custody of my sister, I was free. I felt so free and happy, I started on a journey that began in church and led to my eventual conversion to Judaism.

My first Pesach, I wanted to write my own Haggadah about my journey to Judaism. I never did. Bubbe’s kitchen looked like a spaceship and I was busy drowning in work from my day job as a NYC public school teacher. I had stacks of papers to grade and I could barely write my name anymore. It was becoming clear to me that I could no longer keep up the balancing act. Fibromyalgia, which I had recently been diagnosed with, and my full-time job didn’t mix. I was desperately unhappy and thinking of all the wrong ways to escape.

Depression became my best friend when I finally understood the cards I had been dealt. I had always been independent but because of fibromyalgia, I would forever be dependent on others, not only for financial help but for help with maintaining the day-to-day routine so many others take for granted.

The chronic pain and fatigue has gotten easier to cope with in years since but watching the future as I had imagined it crumble before my eyes has not. I have been grieving all this years. And sometimes, some days, it is unbearable. Writing has made it easier but even that has been terribly ironic. Writing causes the pain to flare up, both physically and mentally. Writing is something I had already dismissed as a career possibility. Why was it fibromyalgia that gave me all the time in the world to write?

This Pesach, I want to imagine that someday I will be free again. No, never from fibromyalgia, which is incurable, but perhaps I can someday be free from grieving for my loss. On last week’s episode of Smallville, Chloe Sullivan told Clark, “You can never be who you want to be if you’re always looking over your shoulder at what could have been.” I don’t know who I want to be but I’d like to stop looking over my shoulder at what could have been.

4 thoughts on “Let Freedom Ring

  1. Well said. I can only imagine the grief that is possible for your situation, but I enjoy your blogs and you’re an inspiration to me (and from what I can tell, to others as well.) Keep writing.

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  2. I also wanted to write my own haggadah. Maybe some day doing so will bring you closer to peace. Did you get a chance to start? What were your thoughts in beginning it? I may have some pieces you might like. Hag sameach, Aliza. ~ Maya NortonThe New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy

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