Tuesday, March 1, 2011

of decisions and the future

the five months have come to an end, and i am scheduled to be on a flight leaving from tel aviv at 430am friday morning. however, i'm not sure i want to leave. i have the opportunity to do another five month program here. so the decision now is whether i come home, or i stay here in ashdod, and live here for another five months.

i guess it will be good to first look back at the five months here, and summarize how the experience has affected and changed me. after that, perhaps look to what i'd be in for if i returned home right away, and then debate the difference in staying here longer.

five months ago, on october 4th, i arrived in israel. i knew nobody here in ashdod, knew nothing of the culture and had no command of the language. i had a vague idea of what i'd be doing here, but nothing concrete. october 2010 was five years since i returned from iraq. 29 years old and feeling so much more ancient, i was here in an attempt to figure out a way out of the limbo my life was in. i had recovered at home from my brain injury and my ptsd/depression as much as i could have. i had reached an impasse in my recovery, and it was time to go out into life again, and see what would happen. i was the oldest on my program here, with the youngest being a 19 year old from canada. five months later, he is one of my best friends here. i made friends with everyone in the program. while i may not always have gotten along with everyone, and not all friendships are strong, i made new friends for the first time in years. i fit in here with them, and i genuinely feel liked and appreciated, which is exactly what i was seeking. for many many years, i felt "different" and separated from people my own age. of course at times, i took actions which further separated me. but looking back, it was a preemptive defense. here, i forced myself to at least try to be part of the group. and once i tried, i found that 1, while uncomfortable at times, i could still do it, and 2, people wanted me to be part of the group. the realization that people liked and respected me, whereas i thought noone could, was mind-blowing. it sounds silly, but i seriously felt so much different and alone before, that i had just about lost all hope of being accepted. so in a social recovery sense, the past five months have been nothing short of revolutionary for me. i feel like i fit in with everyone here, and that i can "do this" again. in a work sense, i continued my recovery, honoring my commitments and obligations. i got so much out of my volunteering, both in school and at the women's shelter, that it was great to do it. the teaching experience was amazing, and confirmed that i would like to be a teacher. of what age and what discipline, i don't know, but being in a kindergarten here and teaching english as a second language was amazing. difficult at times, sure. but amazing. in a life sense, i am reinvigorated. i feel young again and vibrant. like i said, this five months have been nothing short of revolutionary. 

so, now what? if i go back home, as scheduled, the future plans are pretty simple. i need to go back to work, to make some money. i applied to a job here in israel, from april to july, so i might come back and work that, but if not, still be working at home. in the fall, i am returning to college. where, and for what, are unknown right now, but college is happening. the reality of the situation is different. and that is what gives me pause. i will return home to live with my family. i love my family, and while they know that, i also know that like i said, my recovery while at home is complete. to go back and live at home would be at the very least, a pause in my advancements made here, and at worst, a step back or relapse. when i am living at home, it reminds me of high school, when i hated things. i don't like long island, it's way too expensive. i don't have friends there, which is now a point that doesn't hold much water, being i can make friends, but i just don't like the whole culture and environment of long island. but, it makes no financial sense to live on my own on the island either. basically, i don't want to live there for social, economic and work reasons. i have decided that when i go to college, it won't be on long island. for all the reasons above, and others, i think upstate somewhere is where i'll go. it also affords me the ability to go somewhere and start new. on my terms again, like this trip to israel has allowed me. i don't feel that i have that ability on long island, and it scares me to think how detrimental a return home could be if i get depressed again. i can't state enough that it has nothing to do with my family. i love my dad and my sister, but i am thirty years old and healthy now. it's way past time for me to be at home. so, the question then remains: what to do in new york (or the surrounding areas) between the time i get home and the time i leave for college? and there's really no good satisfying answer i can find. 

(end of this post because i have to go….)


Alicia Ann :) said...

You are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. You can bring all of these wonderful experiences and advancements home with you and live your life to the fullest, but like you said it might not be enough. There is no written rule that says that home is the best place for you. If you have found your home in ashdod then stay there, but realize you might age but those beneath you will most likely be replaced by other's their age. You should always have been a teacher, I have told you that before. Good Luck!!! :)

Max Mosley said...

Dan, it has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you and I have watched you change and grow over the past five months into an individual who is much happier and confident, fitter and wiser, and full of experience now which will help you whether you decide to stay or go back home. Just remain true to yourself and make sure that the decision you make is for YOU and based on what you think another five months will do for you, rather than based on the wishes of others or assumptions about what others from the new group will be like. We had no idea what the last six weeks here would be like with 20 new people, and for me (and hopefully you too) it has been 6 of the best weeks of the program and of my life! Fear of the unknown is a universal trait we all share but it is conquering that fear that separates the strong from the weak and I have seen you conquer so many of your fears already, and have no doubt that you will continue to do so whatever decision you make. Good luck and stay in touch my brother!