Or, you are only as Sick as your Secrets
1 Samuel 26:19
Or, the Post that could get me killed
A. Come with me back in time back to when I was a child growing up in Suburbia with a housewife mom, a 9 to 5 dad, wood paneled den and 2 battleships for family cars, one new, and bigger than the old one. It was 1977. We were not rich, nor poor. We had enough. That was enough, then.
B. We had 1 huge white square dial phone, a avocado green “slimline” phone and a “modern” looking “wall unit” that the architect of our home (we had an original home not a tract home) had installed in the 1960s. We had no microwave, watched black and white TV on 5 stations (one PBS) and had avocado green shag carpeting. I was 11 and my sister was 8. I had flat feet, wore glasses full time, and was all elbows at that awkward age between childhood and adolescence. Just a typical Midwestern childhood? Well, maybe not. We were Jewish, for one.
C. We had just changed synagogues the year before. My parents did not like the rabbi at our present synagogue or that fact that the synagogue seemed more Orthodox than Conservative in that women were considered second class citizens. I had been yelled at by an old timer at the old “shul” for playing with spare change on the sidewalk on the Sabbath. Plus, the services lasted forever. My mother never attended. Of course, I was getting picked on in cheder (Hebrew School). My troubles started early.
D. Back in 1975 or 1976, another Jewish girl in my class at public school told me about the synagogue she went to and said the kids were nicer there. I went home and told my mother about it and my parents looked into it. The synagogue had a more relaxed attitude towards women and girls–they were allowed to read Torah in the congregation and were called up frequently. So, with my parents’ OK, we changed synagogues. My Grandparents already went there, so the transition was smooth. In those days my grandfather was already suffering the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, which would ruin the life of my Grandmother for the next few years. I was a kid, and not that concerned–what did I know?
E. What I didn’t know is that what would happen at that synagogue and what would happen to me over the next two years would probably ruin my life forever.
F. First of all, the kids were WORSE at the new cheder, including the girl that led me there in the first place. I never forgave her for this even though I should. She would try to nicey nice herself up to me in shul years later even unti the 1990s and I would never give her any attention. By the Spring of 1977, towards the end of the year, I had had enough and complained to my parents who complained to the school. It even went all the way up to the rabbi at this small shul. There was a lot of talk and tears, but no one did anything, not even the rabbi. I still remember him sitting in his chair in the office impassively. No one would volunteer to “talk to” the offending kids nor protect me from them long enough to get my Bat Mitzvah or even more, my confirmation, at age 15. I dropped out. Of cheder. At age 11, the year before the bnai Mitzvah preparation. Now I belonged nowhere. The kids at public school were just starting to mature and enter early adolescence (we call it tweenhood) and I wasn’t, at least mentally. The girls in cheder were preparing for their Bat Mitzvahs, I wasn’t. I drifted. I started to notice how odd my Grandfather was acting and I was disturbed. My Grandmother, usually full of good cheer, was tired and sad.
G. Weird things (the usual stuff) were happening to my body. I grew up and out. I looked much older than I was literally overnight. I did not feel much older inside.
H. In the Fall of 1977 I decided to fast “like the other girls” even though I was not destined for a Bat Mitzvah. I got through the fast OK with one small slip. After that, the school year progressed as usual–the normal round of weekdays, weekends, holidays, Sabbaths went on in their stultifying banality except for Grandpa getting worse and worse. It was my first year of Middle School. I went from having to 2-4 friends in 6th grade to 0 friends in 7th grade. I liked a boy and made the mistake of telling him and he brought out what seemed to be 1/2 the 7th grade class to make fun of me over it. Nowadays, a girl would cut herself, get an eating disorder, or kill herself on the Internet. I just coped. (Sort of).
I. Life, for me, was chaos by Spring 1978. My body had betrayed me. My mother kept calling me names about my newly developed buttocks and thighs. My pediatrician made a crack about my body during an exam. Clothes would gap 3 inches at the waist and be tight in the butt. I felt ugly as hell. I had glasses and buck teeth and now a fat ass, fat thighs and small boobs. I felt like a MONSTER. I was merely pear shaped but never heard of that. I had no friends at public school and now my former classmates at cheder were turning 13 one by one and having Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Girls and boys started “going out” together. There were talks in the halls of parties. My harassment at public school was worse than ever. I had no one. Then, one day, my life changed again. This time it was MUCH worse.
J. It was a day in late April–it must have been a weekend or a 1/2 day because I was outside in the field behind our house. It was warm and sunny instead of snowing. The sun shone its golden light as I walked from plant to plant popping early wheat kernels into my mouth. I felt happy, carefree. There were no mean kids, angry parents, or crazy Grandpas out here. The sun finally got a little too hot. I walked slowly home, over the neighbors fence, across the grass smelling of Spring, crossed the street and went into the unlocked back door. I took a large glass of OJ since in those days my mother forbade soda, and sat down on our black leather couch in the wood paneled den. The room was shady and cool compared to the golden paradise outside. I picked up one of my mother’s Time magazines and opened it. My life changed forever. That day was the last day of my life on Earth as I knew it.
K. I turned the page and before me was the man I thought I would marry. It was an article on a rock group. I read the article and the band became a part of my life forever. If I could go back in time, I would have chucked the magazine in the fireplace, found some matches on top of the fridge, and burned it, but young and naive as I was, I had NO idea what I was getting into.
L. After that day more and more of my time was spent thinking of the group. I collected magazine articles and records of theirs. Soon ALL my free time was spent in my room thinking of them especially HIM. I learned a new trick–to live inside of my head. I guess it is now called dissociation. I would listen to the radio or our old record player that had FOUR speeds (what was speed 16 for?) and the world fell away. I was not in my body. I was there, with them, living inside millions of little dramas I created in my head. It became real. A parental knock on the door or the clop of my dad’s shoes in the hall sent me reeling back to Earth, my life, and all its ugliness. It was like falling out of the sky to Earth. I had an experience of this as late as 2010.
M. I thought of the group night and day. I started to hear voices, started to have ideas about this one and that one in the group. “My” guy was the hero, while the “other” guy was the zero trying to literally take him out. The other guys were bit players. The voices told me my group was a “consolation prize” for not getting the Bat Mitzvah. The voices always sounded like older adult men. “They” told me to “grow” my obsession for the band and “make it a big thing”. The worse life got on the outside the more I lived in my head. Were the voices early V2k? Witchcraft? Was I already a target?
N. I would scour magazine racks in stores for articles on them. If they were to be on TV I would feel sick and anxious the whole week before. Nights I would hug the pillow and imagine it was HIM. I would dream walking in an open field and he would call out to me. I would dream of being in outer space in a space capsule “searching” for him hearing the old song “Wishing on a Star” in the background. Milestone after milestone passed as I grew into adolescence, and every time I missed something, my fantasy life and overeating became the “payment” to kill the sting.
O. People in “real life” became less important to me, dealing in the “real world” became painful and was to be avoided as much as possible. Life was in my head, real people with all their rejection of me became GHOSTS. Anyone who acted like they liked me was only feeling sorry for me: I loathed them. My schoolwork began to lag: people who thought I would turn out brilliant now thought I’d only be ordinary. I saw my first shrink in 9th grade. At 15, I overheard my parents say right in front of me at a food court of all places, that they were going to give all their attention to my sister from now on. They had already been giving her all their love and me none. For that, I ran away for the first time. Still, I lived in my head.
P. The year before, my Grandpa, then a Great Uncle, then Grandma’s dog died. I was miserable. I read the book “When Bad Things Happen to Good People”. I did not understand it. Only the rock group mattered. I experimented with promiscuity and stopped. I hope all the men who tried and sometimes succeeded in picking me up then are all dead or rotting in Hell. They were nothing. Only the group mattered. After I came back from my first run, things got worse. My parents took me to a new shrink who prescribed pills that sunk me so low I attempted suicide. The hospital saga began which predates the journal. My aunt gave me that blank book never thinking it would make it around the world on the Internet one day. (I had it on my old blog.) For a little while I tried to give up the “friends” in my head by attending a support group but came running back to them after a particularly bad day when I was an inmate in the hospital. I literally said to them in my head “I need you, it’s too hard” It was like returning to a lover. After being locked up like a criminal for months I ran away from the hospital on pass. By 16, I had dropped out of school, had slept with strange men, tried drugs, alcohol, and started smoking.
Q. After a 3 week run, I came back home and saw my life for the first time. Some miracle (from God) prevented me from having to go back to that hospital. I was a wreck. What happened? Where had it all started? In that synagogue. In that rabbi’s office. I must take some “credit” as well. The rabbi who didn’t care whether I dropped out of cheder or not. I was DETERMINED to go back to that rabbi to claim what was “mine”–my Bat Mitzvah. The rabbi did not seem to be that excited. He handed me a book on Baal Teshuvot, or those who come back, much like coming back to Christ after backsliding for Jews. He told me to read it and tell him what I thought. Because of all the years of fantasy dissociation, my reading level had slipped and I barely understood the concept of the book. When I reported back to him he was less than impressed. I wasn’t going to get that Bat Mitzvah. even though I’d see 30 and 40-year-old women get theirs on some Saturdays when I’d go with Grandma to shul. After the service, I’d eat the milche tuna salad and pastries for Kiddush and go home and disappear back into my REAL life, the band.
R. In 1983, during a run, I went very far. I met some of the band. I wrote down the experience, but shredded it in a perp-based fear cycle probably in the early 1990s. At that time I gave away all my albums, articles, etc…of the band. When I came home, (which I always did) for some unfathomable reason, I still did the fantasies. I decided to get serious with my life on the real plane, at least. I was almost 18. I got a GED and had high enough scores to get into community college. Once I got in, my grades fizzled to nothing. My years of dissociation PLUS the entire year of High School I missed made me too slow and stupid for the work. I became pen pals with other fans of “my” group for the first time. For some reason, they “loved” the “bad guy” in the group and dismissed my “hero”. I decided to let bygones be bygones and “like” the “bad guy” whilst still “loving” my “hero”. I dropped out of college and worked a variety of low paying jobs and even moved to the city where the band lived for a very short time. I met my “hero” at last. He was attractive but I felt “rejected” by him.
S. Meanwhile, at home, trouble had been brewing at the synagogue. The rabbi and his wife wanted to build a new shul on the rich side of town and the members did not see why it was necessary. A mini war ensued. My Grandma, who was all excited to be invited to a “special” luncheon by the Rebbetzin (rabbi’s wife) came home enraged to find out it was about the building fund, and that she had been “handpicked” to make a DONATION for the fund. When I went to the shul (more and more seldom as the years went on) I would walk the hall down the outside of the Social Hall to look sadly at the picture of “my” Confirmation Class. I would start at the photo of the first confirmation class way back when with a picture of a strange rabbi I did not know go through to my class then on to the newest picture. It was a sad ritual I did every time I went to shul. Finally, the building war came to a head, and the rabbi decided to leave. I went with Grandma to “see him off” at an evening service and reception. After the service the congregation stood in line to say their personal goodbyes. I stood in line and watched as people hugged him, shook his hand, blessed him…my turn had come. I looked the rabbi in the face and said, “YOU’D BETTER WATCH OUT”, yes, I said it. I insulted and threatened a man of the cloth. I committed a huge faux pas and sin. My anger had come out. Nowadays, I would have been escorted out by security or even arrested, but the rabbi merely chose to act like I did not say anything at all.
T. Thru the “magic” of Google I found out he went on to another shul to live and thrive and finally retire. One of his children is a rabbi. He himself is a sought after teacher and speaker to this day even though he is quite old. He lives but 100 miles away from where my band used to live as I continue to rot up here in perp hell. God did NOT punish him for denying me a rite of passage–but He and the perps got me!!!
U. The next year, my gangstalking began and the year after that, my life fell apart (again). A new rabbi came, got into a scandal with a woman, and left. His successor arrived and is still there to this day. The old small building still stands. The congregation stays small. I used to go on the bus and walk by my Grandma’s house and the shul from time to time but no more. The nightmares of my Grandpa running senile and crazed in Grandma’s house lasted years. I still dream of being by the shul or standing on the hill to the south of it to this day. I still dream of being in that office. The place haunts me. The last time I was inside the building was Yom Kippur 1996. The current rabbi was there. He was the one who had to scramble up a funeral service for my atheistic mother.
V. What happened that day at 11? What did the rabbi see in me? Why did he still reject me at 17 instead of compassionately mentoring me to make my parents proud? Did he see evil in me? Is there evil in me? Am I evil? Is my Christianity that I converted to an empty profession? Am I batting for the wrong team? Would I do better on the “other side”? Could I have the things I always wanted? After all the perps keep saying I lost my Salvation. My hero is dead. I still fight the fantasies. They are harder to kick than crack.
W. Nowadays, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are merely a show of money and glitz. I almost had a nervous breakdown whilst dying laughing to see that dogs and cats have bark and meow Mitzvahs!!! My cat can get a Bat Mitzvah and I can’t!!!!! That’s very funny, Jesus.
X. As a weird aside, my sister, who no longer speaks to me, had the best Bat Mitzvah the shul had in its history. Later, probably in the mid 1990s, the rabbi came back to town to meet some of his old students. My sister went. He did not REMEMBER her–the perfect one, the LOVED one. Was it his very underhanded way of saying “sorry” to me for what happened? Poetic justice? Brain fart? I’ll never know. The next to last time I attended a synagogue service was Yom Kippur 2007. All the congregation were in on perping me. The whispers and looks went on all day. Later, it seemed OBVIOUS that the congregants were PROUD THEY HAD FASTED. They were “super fasters” they had “made it”. They had fasted a DAY. The crafty and wise rabbi there DELIBERATELY ran the service a mere 1/2 hour over the end fast mark whilst watching them madly scramble at their watches. I could have died laughing. The rabboni had outfoxed the Pharisees.
Y. I relate another anecdote–it was probably 1979–of the rabbi featured in this post. He once GAVE IT to our congregation on the “break the fast” matter. The “official” end time to fasting had come and people had started to wander back to the Social Hall to get juice and cookies before going home to a big meal. The Maariv, or Evening Service, still needed to be recited. He gave an impromptu sermon on starting off the New Year right by staying put thru the last 10 minutes of the day-long service. He kicked their asses, figuratively. For some very strange reason, at 14, I was proud of him that day standing up to all of them. I learned the difference between real religion and hypocrisy.
Z. In my lean years before I got benefits, about 1998, I got a temp one day gig as a food prepper/banquet server. It was at a local synagogue. It was the only position my father ever got me. Turns out it was a Bat Mitzvah of a profoundly retarded/autistic? girl. As we waited to serve the banquet, it was related over the loudspeaker to the congregation that the girl had just injured her mother a few days before. I think she bit her and broke her arm–but the show must go on with the mother showing up in a sling and stitches. The retarded/autistic girl had several rabbis COLLABORATING on how to get this girl her rite of passage. One of the rabbis on the panel was GUESS WHO??? Why me?
P.S. Since I have written this I have found out the Rabbi has passed on. Three days after my “hero” did. More weird.