belligerence

There are  two distinct themes in my stubbornness (I’ve backed away from the idea that I’m not stubborn. I consider this to be growth). The first relates to feminism, stemming from the moments in my childhood and adolescence when my mother would tell me to act like a lady. As far as I have ever seen, nothing good can come from acting like a lady: you’re uncomfortable all the time and you never get to say what you think. There were, and continue to be, no incentives.

The second thing is about Judaism. I have been having a series of Jewish nervous breakdowns lately, starting with kashrut, and continuing last week with some thickly concentrated anger at Shabbat. Shabbat did not actually do anything to me, and I’m sure it’s very nice for some people, but right now, we’re not on speaking terms, much like the Aleinu and shul related activities in general.  Maybe it’s the Upper West Side, maybe it’s the wound I’m still nursing, but I can’t remember being so angry at Judaism before (at Jews, yes, but not at ritual, and not like this). It’s as though  there’s this ball of rage in my stomach, which may or may not resemble a serving of Shake Shack cheese fries.

Usually, if something makes me angry, I just don’t do it, but I tend to not feel so hostile. Lately, it seems like I’m seeing one way to be Jewish, one way to express the identity and I’m exhausted by it.  I’m self conscious about this, in a way that of course means I’m going to write about it and make sure everyone knows.

At many points, ritual has been healing to me, it’s helped me to create structure, to mine parts of myself, to have outrageously transformative and moving experiences, but I’ve internalized somehow this very narrow understanding of what ritual is. I’ve pretended to be down with halacha for a long time, and it just is not working. There actually can be tremendous power in faking it sometimes, you start to believe in things, like your own confidence, that you might not have been able to otherwise. But I keep reaching the same conclusion- I am done faking it, and if that means leaving things behind, then fine. Maybe.

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