Monday, December 23, 2013

The "Invisible Woman"

Rachel is a widow with grown-up children. She has been divorced for 15 years. Although she has wanted to re-marry she has not been able to. When she called me she was clearly in a major depression. She had not been having any pleasure from her life for many years. Over time, she had became progressively more socially isolated and fearful to venture out of her house. She had stopped driving completely.
During her years of widowhood, Rachel became progressively more insecure about her identity as well. Previously as a married woman she lived through her husband. For years she denied her own feelings and lost touch with what she thought or believed. Rachel is very bright yet she never disagreed with her husband because she wasn't aware that she had an opinion of her own.
Rachel married a super religious man because that was what she felt her father expected. So she married a man who gave her no love or support from the beginning of their marriage. He never considered Rachel's feelings or preferences. He was busy all the time with learning and religious activity but there was no love or connectedness in their relationship. She felt like the "invisible" woman.  She learned to "accept" that G-d's will was for her to clean this man's house, wash his clothes and raise his children. She sent her children to a school that would not allow them to visit Israel even though she didn't feel this was right. Ultimately, her son was expelled from this school without any warning or attempt to deal with the concerns that they had about him. According to Rachel, her son hadn't done anything at all to warrant being tossed out of yeshiva. This had a terrible effect on the boy's self-esteem and he subsequently gave up his religious lifestyle. He changed his dress to a more modern garb, married a secular woman and raised a family that is completely secular. Of course Rachel still loves her son but she doesn't speak about what happened her anguish is too great. 
Rachel had been to numerous psychotherapists during this time but none of them helped her. She just continued to sink deeper into despair and became more alienated from herself. Most of the therapists although they were religious, encouraged her to talk about her past in order to understand it better. But revisiting the pain on a regular basis, even in the presence of an empathic listener, only intensified it.  Her search for spiritual advice also hadn't yielded the results that she had hoped for. She was losing faith not only in herself but in G-d too. Rachel felt that G-d had abandoned her for some reason and didn't know how to get a connection back with Him.
When Rachel discovered Rabbi Shalom Arush's international bestseller the Garden of Emuna, she enjoyed it but had many questions about how she could apply it to her own life. She read other books by Rabbi Arush and slowly became intrigued by the idea of being attached to a tzaddik, a great holy Rabbi who could help her come closer to G-d. It was a foreign concept for Rachel because she had been taught that the concept of a tzaddick didn't apply in our day and age. So she wondered how a flesh and blood person could intervene in her life and bring her blessing and happiness. So she read more about the subject of connecting oneself to atzaddik on and saw that Rabbi Shalom Arush said that the blessing of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev was on the emuna coaching programs that were being advertized on the website.  She decided to try it and enrolled for 6 sessions.
In our first session Rachel said that she wanted to find a man who lived in her country and in a particular city because that was where she felt most comfortable. She said she knew this was a tall order but that at her age it would be difficult to deal with someone of a different background and who had different customs. She also wanted a man who was "into emuna" and Rabbi Shalom Arush.  Her dream marriage was to partner up with a man who she could spread emuna with in her country.
After our first session she was told about a man who sounded like a real possibility. He actually gave lectures on emuna. Before meeting him though, Rachel decided to listen to one of his lectures on the radio. She liked it and they arranged to meet. Continue right here...

More great reading:

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - The Optimistic Attitude

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - The Good Life

By Howard Morton  - Dear Hollywood

By Racheli Reckles - The Shopaholic

Blessings for an extraordinary day!
Dr. Zev Ballen