Why I haven’t been posting lately – trying not to be consumed by fear

overcoming fearLately I’ve had what for me is a very long break in posting, almost two weeks since my last post.  I always have more things to write about than I have time to write and usually when my posting slows down it’s a reflection of my time constraints.  A break of this length is very, very unusual, since writing is a bit like breathing for me and I’ve had time to write.  So why haven’t I posted in so long?

The reason I haven’t been writing is because…. I haven’t had the emotional energy for it.  

When we were preparing to make aliyah three years ago, I had many fears and anxieties about what we were doing and I had to very actively and consistently work with my thoughts to moderate them so the fear wouldn’t overcome me.  We would be moving with a family of 11, nine children including several teenagers, a stage of life in which families are strongly advised not to  make aliyah.  We made the decision very quickly and hadn’t spent years saving for it, so the savings that we had in place would have to suffice.  Since we had lived in Israel after marriage and legally changed our immigrant status then, we wouldn’t be entitled to any financial benefits that new immigrants receive, despite not having received them all those years before.  I wanted to buy a home so our family would have the stability of having our own place, but everyone advised against this and buying a home in Israel is complicated and very expensive.

I shared about the general things we were moving towards but didn’t detail the intimidating specifics (in large part financial) at that time since writing about them felt like giving too much weight to my fears.  I was trying to do very difficult things and any energy spent talking about it was going to take away from my energy in moving forward.

When we finally got through the process and moved here into the home we purchased from overseas, I was able to take a deep breath.  We did it!  And then I regretted that I hadn’t detailed  all that I was doing and what I had to do in order to make that move possible because it was an incredibly intense time of fears and faith.  It took a lot of physical effort but even more than that, it took enormous emotional strength.  I actively worked on trusting the process every single day and believing that everything would work out, even when roadblocks kept coming up and it seemed it just couldn’t happen the way I was picturing.  I credit our move to that faith but it wasn’t easy at all; developing faith was a very active and conscious effort for me at the time.

I’ve been feeling very unsettled lately and emotionally it’s very similar to how I felt when we were getting ready to move to Israel.    I have some fears that are taking a lot of energy to actively manage so that they don’t become overwhelming and this is a big part of why I haven’t wanted to write.   It’s much easier to share about hard times when they’re over and successfully resolved, and I’m smack in the middle of a lot of insecurity and uncertainty.  

My husband has currently been unemployed for two months and we were just notified several days ago that we won’t get unemployment benefits for that entire period because he missed a check-in meeting a couple of weeks ago that he didn’t realize was mandatory.  It’s not their fault that he didn’t understand the rules properly, but that was a hard blow for me since it was money we were relying on.  Making aliyah is an expensive proposition but we expected and planned for that.  What we couldn’t have planned for was repeated hospitalizations of our kids and the accompanying increase in  expenses and simultaneous drop in income.  Thankfully we had reserves because that’s what got us through all of that but that couldn’t be expected to last forever no matter how incredibly frugal I was and it hasn’t.  

In America there are social nets that help people in difficult situations that don’t exist here so struggling there looks very different than struggling here.  Being a person who has always lived simply in order to avoid debt and have money set aside for emergencies, I don’t have a high level of tolerance for financial instability and so I have a lot of fear about this right now.  I look forward to sharing the amazing things that happen for us to change this situation and do believe that things can literally change from one day to another for the better but this is where it’s at right now and it’s very hard.  

On to the next thing, our plans to move.  After four months of analyzing the particular community we wanted to move to and finally announcing our decision when it was definite, it’s become clear in the last few days that we need to change course.  That’s a very sudden change.  While I tend to make decisions quickly, I don’t do it rashly and I certainly don’t tell people about something until I’m very, very sure of it and thought through all aspects of it.  Changing a decision like this that had so much forward motion isn’t easy and means I’ve had to consciously let go of my vision and be open to something else.

Why the change?  There are a number of factors but the biggest one is It’s become clear to me that my husband needs to be near the Tel Aviv area for work since most of the jobs available in his field are there.  We were recently told by someone who trains and places technical writers that it’s easier to find work in the north than to find work in Jerusalem, and since we live in the north we understand what that statement means.  It’s not easy at all to find work in his field in the north.  In the area we were planning to move to, working in Tel Aviv would necessitate a 2.5 hour commute in each direction daily, which isn’t feasible.  Right now I consider it of critical importance that he be best positioned where there are the most prospects for him in terms of employment while still being commuting distance to Jerusalem for my older kids.

As far as the actual moving plans – that’s also being affected by our changing decisions.  We were planning to stay here while our home was for sale, giving my husband time to look for work and then moving into a home we purchased in the other community at the end of the summer.  We’re now in the uncomfortable position of needing to move so that my husband can find employment in the area where there is work (in Israel, employers generally only consider hiring those who live close to where work is, so being hired first and moving later isn’t a commonly accepted practice).  But in order to move, you need to have a job so you can demonstrate your ability to pay your rent to a potential landlord.  It’s a catch-22.  

My husband and I have discussed this and decided we won’t move until he finds work, and he will live away from home during the week if necessary.  This way he can be local for hiring purposes but we don’t have to move until we have a stable income.  Hopefully he’ll find work very soon, but even if he’s hired two minutes from now we won’t move until after Pesach (Passover).  Since we aren’t interested in buying a home in the new community at this time, we’ve taken our home off the market and will rent it out instead.

I’ve decided on the larger area we’ll move to (I think – I’m afraid to assume anything is definite anymore) and narrowed down the neighborhoods we’re considering to two, and need to do some more research to determine which would be better for us at this time.  One is more expensive than the other but would be better socially; the other is less expensive but socially we can’t tell yet what it’s like.  When I told my mother what community we have in mind, her jaw literally dropped – it wasn’t what she would have expected and it’s not what I would have expected, but I think it has the potential to be very good for the entire family despite it being a big shift.  I’ll share about that when there’s something more specific to talk about.

Right now I’m trying to balance needing to move forward and being unable to move forward.  It’s not easy.  Very little is in my control right now and though intellectually we may know that none of us really have control of anything, sometimes life allows us the illusion that we have control and that illusion is comforting.  Many of  my illusions of my efforts making a difference have been stripped away and to say that’s uncomfortable is putting it mildly.  

Almost every day I have times that I feel anxious or fearful, and then I remind myself that I need to do my part and God will help me.  It may not come the way I want or when I want, but it will come and it will be good.  And when it all works out, I’ll be able to share it with you because now you have a context for understanding that those good things didn’t always come quickly or easily for me.   

Avivah

35 thoughts on “Why I haven’t been posting lately – trying not to be consumed by fear

  1. wishing you all hatzlocha with finding work and moving. two very stressfull areas in your life right now. It should go quickly and smoothly and be a good place for your family. chodesh tov!

  2. I feel for you Aviva…May Hashem continue to guide you and your family with all your decisions and endeavors and may you soon see how Hashem was/is constantly with you in everything you do. Much strength to you, emotional and physical, and may this time of instability soon be over and you can enjoy a lot of nachat from your very special family. There is a poem I always like to read (I found it in a magazine when I was archiving some things in Sherut Leumi over ten years ago). The author is unknown and it’s called:

    You Can’t Do More

    Do your best for everyone, make this your daily plan
    It may not be so very much, but do the most you can
    To help and please, but never let it hurt or worry you
    If people don’t appreciate the things you try to do
    Maybe they will criticize and often fail to read
    The good intention in your mind, the thought behind the deed
    So go on doing what you can, the unkind word ignore,
    Never be discouraged, do you best, you can’t do more

  3. I was wondering/concerned about why you hadn’t posted in a while. I had hoped nothing was going on. I’m so sorry you are dealing with so much uncertainty/fear/anxiety. Continued hatzlacha! ((hugs))

    1. I appreciated your concern, R! I knew people like you would realize something was off when I didn’t post for so long.

  4. Wow Avivah, uncertainty is so scary. Thank you for sharing this with us while you are in the midst, now we can daven for you.

  5. I have missed reading your posts. Your writing always uplifts me. Thank you for sharing your struggles as even they are uplifting. May your efforts reap many positive rewards for your family!

  6. This sounds so overwhelming that you really need to take things one day (maybe one hour?) at a time – not a comfortable position for someone who likes to prepare and plan. I can only send virtual hugs. I hope you don’t find this suggestion intrusive or overbearing, but has your husband put his skill set up on Craigslist or other boards? Even if he gets some freelance work, it might help temporarily. More and more people we know are looking online for people to do things for them. Maybe with some more details, there might even be readers of your blog who would benefit from your husband’s talents? Wishing you much bracha and hatzlacha and a ‘venahafoch hu’ for peace of mind and good tidings.

    1. Susan, you’re right – I keep telling myself that I can only live one day at a time, and I can live next week’s day when I get there. I appreciate all suggestions and don’t find it intrusive at all!

  7. Good luck with all.
    All changes are difficult and I totally understand the dilemma about finding a place where the commute to work is not too bad.
    It’s hard enough with a small fmaily and with young kids, even more so in a family your size, and the fact that you are still “new olim” is also a big issue.
    I wish you much syata dishmaya n finding the perfect fit.
    I know you’re keeping a lot quiet until you find the perfect place but maybe if you let us know a bit more we could help you narrow your search a bit?

  8. Oh how I relate! I wish you menuchas hanefesh in your decisions! I was also starting to worry about you! When we were about to come on aliyah 25 years ago we went to the Jewish Agency reps in NYC. My husband, who had just finished his degree in economics grilled them for an explanation of how a family budget works in Israel. Their answer-“we once tried to put together such information for new olim, but it didn’t work and we found it was scaring people away!” Honestly, that’s what they said! It has been a long and scary process learning how to rely more on hashgacha pratis than on our own resources. We try our best to do our due diligence, but it is abundantly clear that in reality it is only on miracles that we get by day to day.
    Some info you may already have: Nefesh b’nefesh has lots of useful info on communities throughout Israel and even though they won’t help financially they might be helpful with the job search. Also the OU is a great resource for helping Anglos find jobs, they host “job fairs” in Jerusalem. Then of course there’s the AACI. I hope things will fall into place for you very soon!

    1. Shoshana, I’ve also found that things work on different planes here than in the US! I recently asked a long term acquaintance who has a very large family about how they managed financially and she gave me the kind of answer I always shook my head at but am realizing that maybe her approach has an advantage over mine. Here in Israel much more than in the States I see how Hashem is pulling strings and somehow people have what they need despite not having the money for it.

  9. I feel your pain! We’re planning to make Aliyah this summer, and I’m both elated and terrified.

    I daven that everything (for both of us) should be clear and revealed, with smooth transitions and roadblocks removed!

    1. I wish you lots of strength, Yocheved! Aliyah is exhilirating and and it also forces you to develop emunah in a way you never needed to before.

  10. What strength to share your fears! That is truly courageous. It also really helps others b/c all of us fear the reactions of others,but it is really just the opposite, people feel closer when we share our “downside.” You have many wonderful supporters who really care about you and that is amazing only b/c in life we usually have very few trusted friends. You certainly are blessed!
    I am here whenever you need me. :-)

  11. Sending you strength, Avivah. I really admire your honesty (with yourself and well as your faithful readers!). Hang in there, my friend. B”eh, it will soon turn the corner…..

  12. Avivah, I’m sure I’m not the only one who would happily hit on a “donate” button on your blog. You give so much to so many and people want to reciprocate in a tangible way. Many (most?) blogs have this feature now. Why not? May Hashem grant you clarity, strength, and success in navigating your current challenges.

    1. Michal, this is an idea that really makes me uncomfortable, despite knowing that this is so common as to be almost standard. You’re probably right that I should do it – it will be another chance to overcome discomfort!

  13. Avivah – chazak ve’amatz.
    This sounds so challenging. May Hashem bless you with clarity.

    On a very practical note, speaking of safety nets, your family may be entitled to extra Bituach Leumi payments because of Yirmiyahu’s T21. It’s definitely worth looking into.

    You are right that it’s much harder to find a tech writing job in Jerusalem – and the salaries are half of what they pay in the central region. Literally half!

    1. We do get a sum for Yirmiyahu though for most of his life that has been less than the extra costs for him (his formula costs were for a long period almost the entire sum) but in any case I try to use this money only for services for him.

      Your comment about salaries being half was really encouraging now that we’re thinking of looking for work in the center, thank you!

  14. I have something to share that is not necessarily appropriate for a public comment. (Not inappropriate per say, but none of anyone else’s business.) I don’t know how to send you a private message, so if you can see my e-mail address feel free to send me a message and I’ll reply.

  15. Thanks for sharing this with us, I was getting worried too! May Hashem bless you all with everything you need now, with no further delays.

  16. Sending you strength and prayers and yes, my thanks also for sharing the hard things – it is very powerful, at least for me, to feel you will share both good times and bad.

    It sounds like you are opting to continue with wisdom and uncertainty, rather than clinging to a decision because it is known and was already made. I think this is one of the hardest things and I think you ARE moving with wisdom and careful consideration.

  17. I can relate too personally to what you’ve said. My husband was laid off recently. Our money very well might not last until his next job. We are considering moving, but it’s so hard to plan anything when we don’t know when and where he’ll find work. I can see some potential signs of the divine in this, and accordingly hope for great good to come from this, but if I let myself think for a moment about logic and chance, about real life from a secular viewpoint, it’s scary.
    I’m trying to keep in mind what someone one told me about the Rebbe Nachman saying “all the world is a very narrow bridge, and the principle is to no be afraid.”
    But how can this be? Fear is a natural and logical response. So the explanation I heard is that we shouldn’t make ourselves afraid. I shouldn’t spend my time thinking ” oh no! We’re going to fail! What if this? Then what?”. I think you’re doing the right thing by trying to rein in those negative thoughts while trying your best to plan sensibly in an unknown and otherwise quite trying situation. I hope your children learn these great qualities from you and that ה׳ guides us in the gentlest and sweetest way possible to where we need to be next.
    B’hatzlachah Rabbah!

    1. S, I send you my warmest wishes for a quick and positive resolution of this situation! Being in a situation of uncertainty is so hard; not knowing if you should do something, what to do, how to do it….very challenging. The only way I personally can handle these fears is to consciously fill my mind with positive thoughts to counter the negative recording that runs through my mind on automatic.

  18. Good luck! I hope it all works out for the best, and soon!

    One thing you might consider when choosing an area to move to is that sometimes in a more expensive area, living expenses are also higher (beyond the issue of rent). If you were willing to consider an area like Beit Shemesh, which is a train ride away from the center of the country, you can get many services cheaper there. There are second-hand clothing stores, cheap school supply sales at the beginning of the year, cheap food sales before Pesach, etc.

  19. Avivah, wishing you and your family all the best, hopefully your new move will be a “mishane makom mishane mazal!!! it is so challenging, on many levels, to go through real financial difficulties and uncertainty :(

    1. I also hope this coming move will be a change that will shift things for our family, Gilla! Thank you for the empathy and good wishes.

  20. Bracha vehatzlacha! You are an amazing person who inspires and uplifts so many readers, including me. You are all going to make it and B’ezras Hashem do very well! Chazak!

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