Sunday, June 26, 2011

Going the distance

Making Aliyah isn't only, at least for me, about moving to Israel, living the dream, or living as an authentic Jew in the most authentic of Jewish places.  You might think that'd give me plenty of reason to move, but it dawned on me in today’s early hours that there's something else going on- something very emotional, very palpable, and deeply personal.   See, not every Aliyah story is filled with tears of joy. And not every Aliyah story is filled with the bittersweet push-pull of wanting to stay and go.  Sometimes an Aliyah story tells the tale of doors opening, greater self-awareness, and truth.  Aliyah is not about running away, but running towards what is good and right.  It’s about being honest with yourself, understanding that everyone’s story is different and being ready to move on to the next phase.  Its about accepting what you can fix and hoping that you can peacefully accept what is not fixable.  It’s about truth and love in the realest of senses. 

One of the gazillion questions I've been asked, up there with did you sell the house, where will you live in Israel, and what will you be doing when you're there, is about family- how our families of origin are handling the move.  I can tell you that my mother-in-law, though beyond sad, told her son that she can't be angry about our decision because she raised him to want this.  I'm not entirely sure who cried more when she uttered those words.  Every family has its issues and no one has any right to say that their issues are worse or better than the next person's, but I'll admit to feeling both great respect and a good deal of jealousy when my mother-in-law made that statement.  She doesn’t want us to leave but she gets it.

When I’m asked how *my* family, particularly my mom, is dealing with the move, I’m simply not sure what to say.  In the 15 years we’ve been in Chicago, I’ve had many causes d’ célèbre that she’s not been part of physically or emotionally in the ways I wished.  I straddle both reality and wishful thinking.  I know of the internal pain that has shaped her worldview but am disheartened at the ways it has effected mine.  I can see different perspectives even when I don’t want to but deep down really wish my mom could understand, amongst many things, what it means to make positive changes, follow your heart genuinely, and move forward.  Though I am many things and play many roles in many lives, I started out as someone’s daughter, and still think, for however naïve it may sound, that a girl (or boy for that matter) should be able to lean on her mom particularly when she’s on the cusp of a life changing event. That's not something my mom can provide and its time, truly, that I make peace with that.  I know that she will miss me, or at least my physical presence in the same contiguous piece of world property, but she doesn’t ‘get’ the significance of the move and the myriad of things its come to mean.

I’ve been an adult, or at least played one on the local stage, for many years.  As a grown up and clinician, I find “parent issues” at all ages to be one of the stickiest of the bunch.  I’m not looking to make this post, this period of time, or this point in my life, to be one solely comprised of mother-daughter difficulties.  But what I’m learning about this trip, this Aliyah, is that its not just about moving physically or drawing closer spiritually.  It’s about respectful separation; understanding what really is and what really cannot be and being the person I can be while understanding from whence I come.  I’m not looking to “break up,” as it were, or bash my mother.  This trip, this pilgrimage, this journey, is leading me not only to the Holy Land but to a different level of adulthood.  Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder, but I also think it can open your heart to greater goodness and empathy.  I’m choosing to open my heart with understanding so that I can be an Oleh by rising up, in every sense of the word.

1 comment:

  1. Aliyah is not about running away, but running towards what is good and right.

    That is what I have been trying to convey to my family and friends. It's just something that feels right.