Thursday, May 30, 2013

Imaginary friends

Being essentially trapped both in my house and in my community, I have found various ways of alleviating my need for human contact.  Like most people my age, it involves the heavy use of social media.  Although I have not mastered the fine art of the Tweet, I have blogged, pinned, Yahoo Grouped, LinkedIn, Facebooked, etc., with the best of them.  In fact, I would have to say every significant relationship I have made in New York, with the exception of Builder, was created or enhanced through social media.
It's truly a new world. 
Through a computer, I can be anything I want to be.  I follow blogs which range from the impersonal to the completely personal.  I can also reveal myself as much or as little as I want.  I don't even have to use my real name.  How many bloggers do?  I have found and traded ideas through other blogs and Pinterest pages (which is great for the Martha Stewart in us).  I read deconstructions, compare cultures, debate current events, and have even started the occasional flame war.
But one has to be careful.
Behind all those blogs and emails are real people.  People who, when you finally meet them, can seem like old friends because you've been reading their emails for years.  I have actually met some of my best friends through social media (one through Facebook, when I inadvertently started the above-mentioned flame war, another through her now-defunct blog).  When I went to the Torah Homeschool conference in 2012, I recognized a number of participants from their emails and blogs.  However, there are still risks involved.  Just as I can hide behind an alias, so can they (You didn't think my driver's license really identifies me as AztecQueen2000, did you?).  In fact, I found out that one of my favorite bloggers, and the one who goes into the most details about her life, has blogged under a pseudonym.  It was an odd feeling, because as we read these blogs, tweets and posts, we are doing more than reading.  We are relating.  We learn so much about the other person that there is almost a relationship.  Except that the person is not really part of your world.  You wouldn't know these bloggers if you met them on the street, unless they post pictures.  You never talk to them.  You don't even know if they are being honest. 
We create a persona in the online world that has elements of who we are, but they are characters.  Not people.  The people behind those characters may be infinitely more complicated.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Losing my community, finding myself

Being in Boro Park post-separation is an odd experience.  The city that I have called home for almost eight years is now openly hostile territory.  Part of the problem is that it's so small.  The entire Boro Park/Flatbush area is only about 30 blocks by 20 blocks.  Part of the problem is that Builder is connected.  Very connected.  I can't even go to the store without running into either one of my in-laws or one of his friends.  Or both.  (So far, I haven't run into him outside of his vehicle, and I'd like to keep it that way.)  Usually, there is some awkward staring on each side, and we move on.  In a way, it's kind of sad.  As much as I've been tifrosh min hatzibur, I do genuinely like some of them.  However, for obvious reasons, I couldn't tell them what was going on.  I knew they would take Builder's side.  I have changed synagogues to avoid stalking, so a lot of people have now disappeared from my life.
But there is another side to that.
Because I no longer have Builder and his expectations of what good Jewish wives do breathing down my neck, I'm coming more into my own.  I'm getting out more.  I can spend more time with my allies without worrying about getting the third degree.  I can even create a Facebook page for my blog without worrying that it will get back to him.  I can make whatever I want.  Once my future is a little bit more certain, I want my children to know what real freedom is.  And, I can enjoy them more now.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

When love is painful and confusing

Before I got married, I used to think the most painful words in the English language were "I love  you."  Even saying those words would make me sick to my stomach and make me cry.  Seven years of escalating emotional (and other) abuse from Builder have only reinforced that idea in my mind.  Here is a short list of what "I love you" can mean:
  • Don't leave me.
  • You're mine, to do with as I please.
  • I want to possess you.
  • I'm allowed to scream at you, because you're stupid and worthless (but I love you anyway).
  • I'm sorry.
  • Don't hurt me.
  • Give me what I want.
  • I want s-x.
  • You can't leave.
  • You must meet my every demand.
  • Let's have another child.
  • Allow me to show you some token of affection after scaring you and our children with my latest outburst.
  • My abuse of you is justified.
  • I'm such a nice guy.
  • I'm afraid of you.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keeping the faith

Since I left Builder about two weeks ago, I've gotten a range of responses.  Surprisingly, most of them have been very supportive.  Chavie, of course, had reservations.  After all, how could my family possibly make it without a may-unn?(This was after I had explained that Builder had not treated me the way a husband should treat a wife--in pretty much every possible sense.)  But among my supporters, I've gotten one response almost universally from those who knew me before Brooklyn.
"Hey, so you're leaving Orthodoxy, right?"
I left my husband, not my faith.  The Torah is not responsible for Builder's behavior.  If anything, it condemns his actions in the strongest possible terms.  Judaism is a beautiful religion with many wonderful teachings about the way we should treat each other.  Moreover, there are also the Things to consider.  Thing 1 is already six years old--old enough to know about Shabbos, kashrut, and good middos.  She has spent the better part of the past year learning various mitzvot, and the better part of her life reading the parsha.  I'm sorry, but divorce causes enough upheaval in children's lives as it is.  Why add in the stress of "You know all the mitzvot we spent your entire life teaching you are important?  Well--they're not."  I'm sorry, but that seems like a really screwed up thing to do to your kids.  Finally, as I have spent the entirely of this blog explaining, the religion is not the community.  It's certainly not a marriage.
See you in shul!