I’m sorry that it takes me so long to post the next installments. It’s really rather hard to sit and gather my thoughts and recall past events. After I am done writing, it stays with me for a few days and takes a while to shake off the feelings that surface. Moving on –
The next few days were kind of a blur. My parents wouldn’t let me out of their sight. If my mother had to go get groceries, I went with her. If my mother had to go pick up a sibling from somewhere, I went along. I felt like I was on a leash. But I had fallen into a deep dark depression and was pretty ambivalent.
Talk of sending me away to Israel had seized -for the time anyway. My father said he wanted to take me out so we could talk. We went towards the place that had some stores but was right by the ocean. It was a beautiful breezy summer day. I remember because I thought the day didn’t fit my mood.
So much for talking. His work place kept calling him on his cell and he kept getting interrupted. I walked over to the banister that overlooked the ocean. I yearned to fly free like the gulls soaring above, but I immediately quenched that desire. I stared out for some time and my eyes rested on the ring on my finger.
A long time ago, once when I was strong in my belief in Judaism, I made myself a promise that I would be a good Jew, that I would marry a Jew and that I would live a Judaic life. That ring was a reminder of that for me. The fact that I felt compelled to use a ring as a reminder seems a little foolish now. Perhaps I realized I needed that reminder due to the conflicting emotions I had. But whatever the case was, there it was staring glaringly at me.
I felt angry. Annoyed at my father for bringing me out here and not really having the time to talk. I felt tired of feeling like I was on a short leash. I missed college. I missed my friends. I was so tired of feeling sorry for myself and tired of feeling tired. Without thinking, I took off that ring and threw it into the ocean. Very cliche`, I know.
I needed to find a way to get back into college. I needed to find a way to sever the leash.
When my father was done with his calls, I told him that I didn’t want to fail my classes and so wanted to finish the semester. He seemed dubious about my going back. I told him that I’d call my mother when I arrived to campus and in between classes and when I was heading home. I hated that I’d have to do that, but my father had pretty much stated that they could not trust me, and so if I needed to earn their trust I needed to find a way to do that. I agreed to get dropped off or even picked up from campus knowing full well that was not always going to be possible for my mother or father to do. My father went on about how the trust is broken and how I would need to work hard to earn their trust and on and on… I nodded, looked remorseful and as sincere as I could, hoping upon hope he’d allow me to return. He said he’d speak to my mother.
Well, she agreed! And I was so relieved. They didn’t know that I had no class to attend, they didn’t know and didn’t need to know. All I cared was that I was finally being released! I called my best friend and told her to meet me at the train station so we could go together to campus the next day. As I had assumed, they could not give me a ride. Their busy schedule would not allow it. I was pleased!
Before leaving the house, I assured my mother I would call her. She asked to look inside my bookbag to make sure I didn’t pack things that would indicate I was running away.
My friend was on the train that arrived. I saw her and we hugged. And then I started to bawl. Having held so much through this entire ordeal, I realized I hadn’t cried till then. I was just a sobbing mess. People were staring at me on the train but I could care less.
When we arrived at campus she asked me what I was going to do. I told her that I hadn’t the foggiest! She suggested I go see the counselor and I agreed. She went off to her class and I went off to see the counselor.
We talked. It was the same thing. “What do you want to do?” “How do you feel?”
I spoke to several other friends as well. I spoke to the one that I was supposed to leave to.
Every single one of them were making me very angry. They each seemed to be trying to get me to stop feeling so ambivalent about my situation. It was working. I was getting angry at them. I confronted one of them and asked why they were being so mean. I was told that I needed to stop not caring and going along with things and start making a decision and follow through with it. I couldn’t keep feeling sorry for myself and complain. I couldn’t just give up on my beliefs and my life. And they felt the only way to get me to feel anything but sorry for myself, was to get me to feel angry at them so I could snap out of it and start thinking rationally.
But for now I was too scared to do anything and I needed time to get my family to loosen their grip on me. I told the family that was going to take me in that I was working on leaving and I told my friends the same.
So let the game begin!
And it did feel like a game! Two steps forward, one step back. Three steps forward, four steps back. Two steps forward… you get the idea. I was a good, obedient daughter. I helped a lot, I called ALL the time. I was tired, I was mentally drained and emotionally worn out, but I did everything I could to try to earn their trust so they’d loosen their grip just enough.
On the meantime, I hung out at campus, spoke to friends and sat in the library and read. I bid my time.
And finally the ultimate test to see how much their grip had loosened, I asked to go over to my friend’s house on Shabbos afternoon. Because I could not call when I got there, I knew it would be hard to request this. She lived pretty far so it was a long walk. My family, surprisingly, said yes!
After the Shabbos meal, I went to get changed and came downstairs to be greeted by my father. Sigh. He happened to be walking in that direction and said he’d walk with me part of the way. My father ALWAYS napped after the lunch meal so I knew this was not a “happen to be heading in my direction” thing.
So off we walked. When we had to part, I told him I’d call when Shabbos was over to get picked up. He nodded and we parted. As I was walking down the block, I could have sworn I saw him walking down the other block and keeping an eye on me. I sighed and resigned myself to the way things were and just kept on walking to my friend’s house.
Once I had arrived, my friend and I hung out a bit. I told her I was going to try again. She seemed a bit shocked, but not too surprised. I told her we needed to do things slightly different this time. I told her I wanted to leave Monday. She nodded, understood, and we started to make plans. Things would be different this time, plans would be changed ever so slightly to ensure a better outcome.
We decided to take a walk. I was pretty sure my father wasn’t lurking outside. Or so I had hoped. So after a couple of hours, we stepped out and took a walk as far out of the religious community as we dared and entered a train station. I had placed a couple of quarters in my bra, along with a folded up piece of paper with a phone number. I called the family I was hoping to live with once I had left and informed them that I was leaving Monday and should be there Tuesday morning.
The planning was the easy part. The rest to come would be hard. Perhaps the hardest thing I will ever have to do.