Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I never really noticed before that there are people who come into our lives, and, for whatever reason, leave the most enormous mark, but never know that they left it.  My last post talked about bullying and how long lasting the effects can be.  It got me to thinking about how I managed to survive everything that was thrown at me, and that, leads me to where I am right now.

I am sitting in a chair in my living room where I do most of my writing, thinking about how incredibly lucky I am to have built various communities for myself to shield myself from the worst God can throw at me.  Obviously, or in many cases maybe not so obviously and I am just lucky, my family is my first line of defense.  The problem is, the older you get the more time you spend out of the house the less they know what is really happening.  When I got the courage up to ask my mother why she never stepped in with the bullying at school she answered that she never knew- and if she had she would have pulled me out so fast heads would have spun!  And you know what?  She sounded so furious now, 25+ years later that I completely believe her.  I was a pre-teen.  Too cool to let my parents know anything was wrong, so how could they know?

But over the years I built a secondary community for myself of friends and safe-houses where people did know what was going on.  I had two incredible friends in elementary school, both a year ahead of me, who I knew I could count on no matter what was going on.  If I needed to talk, or to cry, or to get away they and their families were always open and welcoming to me.  Over the years we have drifted apart and drifted back together in various combinations, but I only hope those two people know that I would not be alive today were they not there for me on so many occasions.  They mean the world to me, and the fact that we are all friends again, and slowly becoming better friends again, is one of the high points of my life.

Then there was the best friend I made at camp.  Wow were we both miserable, so we ended up spending the summer miserable together and having a pretty good time while we were at it.  Of course, then I sprained my ankle and got to go home early and she was jealous beyond belief.  It tooks years, until an NCSY shabbaton, until we met up again.  She was instantly the same best friend she was that summer (once I recognized her with long hair that is!).  Her family welcomed me with open arms.  I know that if I need someone in the middle of the night, not only CAN I call her, but she will hurt me if I DON'T call her.  I can tell you here and now if I called her and said "I need you" she would be on the next plane to Israel.

In high school there was a big group of us who were friends, and I knew I would pretty much always be welcome anywhere, but there was one girl in that group who was different.  Her family became my extended family and vice versa.  We were together more than we were apart- in fact, I think that is partially what drove me away from my close friends from elementary school.  Our mother's were both "mom" and our brother's were both annoying pests.  After I got married I did something, I am still not even exactly sure what I did, but I drove her away forever.  It is one of my single biggest regrets that she is no longer a part of my life.

And there were others.  A boy <SPACE> friend whose family welcomed me with open arms.  I knew his home was always open to me if I needed somewhere to go.  I am lucky that, while we did go through some hard times, I can once again count him among my closest friends- and his wife is slowly making her way there as well.

Another guy who never seemed to have any rules, real jerk on the outside, but total sweetheart on the inside once you got to know him could always make me smile.  Picked me up one time when I got stuck because a date got drunk and I would not get in the car.  It was 2 am and I was not sure who else to call.  The only person I know who wished us a terrible aliya only so that we would come back and we could be closer to him.

A friend from Bais Yaakov whose house became my "shabbat home".  A friend who I did not think twice about letting move in with me temporarily when she needed to.  A friend who I sometimes think spent more shabbat meals at my place than I did.

And of course my husband and his family.  Jason could not be more stable and reliable and rock steady if he was a boulder stuck in quick sand.

And now here.  When I have needed people the most, I have been able to rely on some of the best people God ever made.  To she who just makes sure I get out for coffee once in a while even though neither one of us drink coffee, to she who has us over for shabbat on weeks where I am just ready to give up, to she who came over and helped me up when I was sobbing in a ball under the kitchen table.  From the woman who left a family and studying to spend nights with me at the hospital, to another friend who changed her shabbat plans last minute to come out here to help me make the place feel "shabbosdic".  To all of you, and you know who you are, thank you.

In these weeks leading up to Yom Hadin I need to beg your forgiveness for being a bad friend.  For leaning on you and not always being able to give you a shoulder when you need one.  For borrowing things and forgetting.  For being a space case on more medication than one human should be able to handle at your shabbat meals.  For cancelling last minute, and for anything else I have done over the last 18 months, I am so sorry.  I am finally, slowly starting to come back to myself and I owe all of you, and Jason, for every single piece of me I recover.  Thank you for being there, for loving me, for putting up with me, for helping me, and Jason and Channah to make it through.  Thank you for everything you are going to continue to do even if I beg you to stop.

God gave me a truly incredible family.  Then he helped me build a second one I would never have made it this far without.


  1. Rachel, I'm literally in tears. What a beautiful letter.

    Where is your frog on a spring barefoot friend? ;-) j/k - we're definitely not there for you as much as we'd like to be.

    xoxo and shana tova - we're thinking of you.

  2. You are there, for me and more so for Jason. He would not have made it without mike