I am struggling to come to terms with the fact that it is already the time of year of praying, forgiving, apologising, striking the chest, wearing white, praying, going to shul, asking forgiveness, sending “Fast Well” text messages, receiving “Fast Well” messages, praying and praying that your prayers will be answered. I spent much of the ten days between Rosh Hashana (The Day of Judgement) and Yom Kippur preparing myself by looking back over my year. I found myself looking at what I have achieved and where I have stumbled and trying to decipher if I had in fact achieved anything at all, or if I had just carried on and arrived at another year with the same sins to ask forgiveness for and the same hopes for my future.
In truth, very little changes; the same daily struggles, the same men, the same fights, the same break-ups, the same breakdowns, the same excuses, the same denial, the same urge to try and make everything work, and the same let-down when I realise that just because I build it ‘he’ still may not come. It takes more than praying and fasting to make me change my ways, although there are things I have adapted somewhat. The change may not be so noticeable from one year to the next, but looking back to before I made Aliyah and now, I see such a vast difference. There is the physical difference which everyone can see, and then there is the difference in me… the change from Hannah Graham to Channahboo, the change that only those nearest and dearest to me can truly see for its worth. I can show anyone a before and after picture of me, but it is only certain people who can see the before and after shot of my soul.
There was a time that I thought that I was soulless. Not totally soulless, that is impossible, everyone has a soul, but in the sense that my soul never quite felt connected to the rest of me. I could not hear it talking to me, helping me make those decisions that only your soul (often thought to be your gut) can tell you. It seems that for years I had just blocked out that voice, and instead battled with the voices of my father, my teachers, my friends and the world before making my decisions. I have always had a pretty good idea what it feels like to be judged, to have expectations placed on you… “Channah is not fulfilling her full potential”… I never understood this as if I never fulfilled my “full potential” how did these people know what my full potential was! I certainly had no idea! Every decision I have ever made in my life I made with the thought in my mind, “What would those voices say?” I might chose to follow those voices or I might chose to disregard them, but in the initial processing of my thoughts, I ignored my own thoughts and listened to what I knew to be the view points of others. I thereby stopped listening to my gut/ my soul.
Last night I lay in bed, shushed the other voices and tried to let my soul speak. “Quiet there at the back!” I attempted the experiment a little on the tipsy side thinking that this would be the easiest way to block out the other voices… and it worked! Until 2.30am when I woke up thinking it was 6.00am and fell over. Back in bed, wide awake, I asked myself what it was I was hoping for this year, and after a long conversation with myself I fell into a deep sleep. At 6.30am my alarm went off, I woke up, got dressed, prepared my lunch, brushed my teeth, looked in the mirror and smiled… this is going to be a good year!