A good friend forwarded a NY Times story to me about the complicated grief following the death of abusive family members. She thought of me because of my book, You Will Never Be Normal, about living and healing with dissociative identity disorder. The Times story rang true, except that my own experience was so Jewish.
I jotted down a note about the abuse having happened in a non-Jewish home before conversion, my mental health complications, and my need as a Jew to grieve the abuser.
Instantly, a light shines on all the Jewish connections underpinning my story. How have I not seen this before? I begin to tally all the important references to Judaism throughout my memoir, starting with the epigraphs. On and on, through Rosh Hashanah, Jewish retreats, Passover, Jewish Day School, Conversion, Viddui, Shiva, Chuppah, Yizkor, and the mention of seven different rabbis. I even asked my therapist one day if he had Smicha, (rabbinic ordination,) he was so learned.
I’m on to something.
Toward the end of my book, I wrote that “each step of my journey of understanding had so far led perfectly to the next” and I listed all the crises along the way that had “unfolded just so, and led me away from the abyss…” Guess what I didn’t mention.
It all rested on the bedrock of my Judaism, so strong and foundational that I assumed its presence, not conscious of its contribution until now.