Friday, March 16, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

I know you're all waiting, waiting to hear about what happened to six years of blog content that used to be here, waiting to hear whether I'm going to continue blogging about Jewish topics that have made me the blogger and Yid that I am today.

The truth is, I don't know what I plan to do. The content still exists online, but it's all private, so good luck finding it. So far, two people have written very different posts about my situation and what came to pass last week. There's the post on Chicago Carless called "Orthodox Blogger Bullies" and there's another up on Mekubal called "Chaviva/Kvetching editor: My Response."

Now, I want to say up front that I didn't ask or encourage either of these posts to happen, but both of these men had kind, honest, and powerful things to say. If you haven't read them yet, I encourage you to do so. I think Mekubal's insight into who I am and what the Orthodox community did wrong when addressing my current life situation and choices is a lesson from which we all can learn.

I've received more than 100 emails and Facebook messages from people apologizing for what I've been through here on the blog and pleading with me to reconsider hiding and no longer sharing my story with the world. I was even surprised that my older brother -- who, I'll admit, I haven't always gotten along with -- spoke out on my Facebook wall about me giving in to the "haters." Coworkers counseled me, friends on ROI counseled me, and, most importantly, Taylor listened as I explained all that was happening and why exactly I was being treated the way I was.

Should I let a few people dictate my choices in life? Of course not. What if those people have the power to destroy me? Well, that shouldn't matter. The only thing I can control is how I react to a situation and how I allow myself to feel afterward.

There was something different about this particular instance of Chaviva-bashing, however. I can't explain what it was, but there was something that struck me as particularly painful. Even when I received a lot of criticism and painful comments back when unveiling that I was even dating a non-Jew, I handled it like I've handled every situation like this. But this time?

I broke.

Being told that you're everything that's wrong with conversion, that you're the poster child for why people don't want converts, being told you're the worst thing to happen to Judaism ... it's hard. It's beyond hard. Judaism saved me from myself, it saved me from a dark, dark place that I was in. Every time I discovered a new mitzvah or way to express myself Jewishly, it felt like crawling out of darkness.

After everything I went through over the past two years, I have struggled to find a way to express myself Jewishly in the way that I always have, to crawl out of the darkness that nearly drove me to suicide near the end of my marriage, and that process was criticized and shat upon by people I once considered friends.

And in that moment, in reading those words by Erik, Bethany, and Skylar, I felt myself drift back into that darkness. That place of loneliness and sadness that existed before I let my Jewish neshama shine through. I felt myself a stain on existence of Judaism. A harbinger of pain and suffering.

I never gave myself a position of power, and I never asked for it. That others give me that power says more about them, than me, I think. And it's something I've realized over the past few weeks. Yes, I understand that I'm in a position where individuals look up to me and seek me out with questions and curiosities -- I'm not your average convert to Judaism, and that story is what I've always committed to sharing. I make no money off this blog, I have no ads, I am committed to storytelling, largely for my own sake.

Stuff You Should Know podcast!
Meeting my heroes of the Stuff You Should Know podcast
gave me some peace of mind in Austin. 
In those moments of hateful speech, I wanted to disappear. I figured, if I just "go away" ... I won't have to break up with Taylor, who I adore, and I won't have to continue bringing harm onto the Jewish community. I was ready to let myself go.

Luckily, I left for Austin and re-entrenched myself in the world of technology and innovation. I found myself among people like me, people who see the power of technology and social interaction via the web. Between that, all of the emails, Facebook messages, blog posts, blog comments, texts, Tweets, and everything else, I felt perplexed. Private versus public, Chaviva versus Kvetching Editor, Amanda versus Chaviva ...

Listen: I don't know what I'm going to do with all of those posts. Yes, I could create an archive and turn off all comments, but I don't think there's a way to delete all the existing comments, and I don't necessarily want to delete them all anyway. But do I want those posts out there? Do I want six years of my life to be available for scrutiny or praise? Do I want to continue blogging about my Jewish experiences? I don't know. I almost feel like it's impossible to not blog about my Jewish experiences.

I am, after all, a Jew.

They can't be divided. Jew, Woman, Girlfriend, Blogger, Educator, Social Media Ninja ...

Just stay tuned, if you will, and we'll see where this goes. Won't you?