Man Plans & G-d Laughs; Adventures of Life & Therapy in Israel
A Professionally Personal Look into the World's Intersection
Moving to Israel is more than moving closer to the Syrian African Rift in the earth; it's a metamorphic shift in thinking, perspective, comfort, vision, food, smells, professions, status, language, grace and spirit. Here the earth literally shifts and pushes land together to make mountains, and waters apart to make valleys; and it also creates rifts between your sense of self and who you are meant to be; your profession and your purpose; and your ideals and your behavior. The borders are fuzzy, the people are fantastically dynamic, and the ground you walk is a cover for an archeologically fascinating journey from the beginning of man. It's a place that will challenge your senses, push all your buttons, and reveal how open minded you thought you were.
Here in this blog I want to explore the conundrums of living in a place where intergenerational trauma dates back 500,000 years and inter-tribal and cross-cultural tensions have been rattling since the bear and caveman vied for the caves. The ground is primed from generations of conquest and sacrifice and for a rumbling, rocky and desert wind existence. We have earthquakes and heartaches here that push even the faint of heart to hearty up and find strength within to be the person you want to be and not the just one that forms by the forces that throw you around here. Jerusalem syndrome can catch anyone. The desert speaks and the call to prayer haunts the hollows. I love it here and quite honestly, I believe it’s the most challenging place on earth. Life here is meaningful all the time. I want to write as a therapist and a human about the transformation of being that comes in the challenges of life, the therapeutic process, and in particular, in this tumultuous, strikingly influential environment.
I just crossed the all mighty marker of ten years of living in Israel with my nose to the grindstone and limestone trying to experience and learn about my surrounding influences. As a Social Worker I feel dedicated and compelled to learn how the environment affects us. As a Recreational Therapist I'm seeking the ways to adapt anything and everything to include. As an Expressive Arts Therapist I'm dazzled by the sources of inspiration that create an overflow of expression here like abundant, gushing streams straight from the Garden of Eden. As a person seeking truth and balance, I'm turning to the earth's bounty to heal us. It's complicated here. And full of treasures. The trick is finding the balance of inner you reverberating with the outer instability in a way that regulates. The boundaries we learned in other countries don't apply here. Most of the rules are unwritten. How much you integrate and adapt to the calling of living here depends on individual choice and courage. It's not a simple path. But life here has meaning in every morsel. I'd like to share some of my thoughts, my challenges, and my studies all with therapeutic intention and I'd like to challenge others to think perhaps a bit differently about life here.
My overall sense now is that trauma has affected just about everyone here to such an overwhelming extent that it affects all our comings and goings and interactions and policies and bureaucracies. It has become the norm but it’s not normal for the body to function under this kind of constant stress. If we want to create a more stable and respectful living, we have to address the ways that obvious and subtler effects of unresolved trauma are rattling our sense of trust and safety and our ability to actually connect to the person across from us. If we are coming from a place of survival we don’t have access to higher brain functions like social connection and kindness. We have to get our mind and bodies back to a healthier capacity for discernment and calm. Then we can reach out to the greater community and society around us. We can respond to the person across from us and to the greater need for social action.
I miss all of you back in the States as the all-consuming life here has prevented me from keeping in touch as I would like. I'd like to connect more with those of you back in my other home and also with those of you in Israel that time hasn't yet allowed us the gift of meeting. I think it's important to claim one's hardships as a part of life's journey and hopefully as markers of personal growth. Living here has put me in touch with experiences and sensations I didn't know could be mine. Anxiety and fear and rage exist here in the cracks of the sidewalk and climb up your pants leg when you're looking for the next falafel. This place can rattle your self confidence to the core and demand that you reinvent yourself as you are meant to be. It really is the intersecting center of trade, religion and continents and the place people from all the world come in search of their own center. I'm going to take the slightly UnIsraeli vulnerable path in the land of the strong and mighty to write my perceptions and try to trust that David is in all of us and so is Goliath. They didn’t just inspire us to face the mighty, they actually walked here. I want to reveal the true and vulnerable experiences many of us have here and link them to the unfathomable events that actually occurred right here. Intensive observation has taught me much about the character that develops when survival is always invisibly moving in the atmosphere and the influence of the ancients and mighties carves the pathways.
My life these past 10 years has had its share of rough and tumble and I'm claiming these experiences as the medals of honor of being an intellectual, psychological and spiritual warrior. The lone soldier here is not only the young 20-something that comes to volunteer in the Israeli army and gets lots of accolades for joining the military life line. The lone soldier exists in every single individual moment of truth and courage here. Some move here alone. Some battle mental illness alone. Some battle loneliness alone in a collective seemingly endless celebrating culture. Some battle the excruciating gift of being highly sensitive in a culture that sacrifices compassion for strength. I want people outside of Israel to know and be curious about what it means to live here. And I want to support with a whole heart the individual people making the sacrifice to live it. In the search for meaning in all of this, it has become very essential for me to bring this out into international and interpersonal dialogue.
I'm going to try to find the balance between personal and professional writing. Some of my posts will be public to all. Some will be marked for clients and some for colleagues. Of course my relationship to this work is both individual and collective. Israel is a very small country and just about everything that happens here is felt my most. In a way everything here is personal because it's small and it is family. People move and grow here within the search for identity and home. My immigration is an essential part of my being and my skill base.
Adjustment and trauma are in my field of concern and study. Adjustment is not just a part of the immigrant's experience. Natives, sabras, the foreign workers, the transient, the wandering , the nomad, the displaced and replaced, and those who are here for love or lack of another place are facing very significant every day traumas and adjustments as this young country tries to establish its stability out of many and varying depths of roots.
This writing is way to extend outward a dedicated work to relieve trauma’s influence. This is my life’s work. Please join me.
This is my offering as way to build a kinder and more connected society.