An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind”- Mahatma Gandhi
What a hard 50 days of summer these were, and to think I had planned on quitting smoking… Needless to say I was given the umpteenth reason not to quit, and carried on, between sirens, to puff away on my cancer sticks. Accompanied by the ever-increasing silence of many friends and a large chunk of family who live abroad, and ‘neglected’ slash ‘didn’t think’ of checking on me to hear how I was holding up. I felt forgotten, it sounds bad, and probably incredibly selfish, after all everyone has their own worries. Their own life filled with problems and a multitude of daily nuisances. Perhaps my wish to have my suffering acknowledged was a temper-tantrum due in large part to the knot in my stomach that was refusing to budge.
Nevertheless, I tightly held on to my resentment security blanket. I was offended, angry and most of all incredibly hurt. How could it be? I knew it was all over the place, I followed the foreign news carefully, I watched every single blood-curling protest where indiscriminate Jew/Israel-bashing became a favorite sport of many in countries I had been raised in. As all the blame was pushed to one side, to my ‘side,’ was it possible that friends and family had decided that it was all true? That I was a ‘genocidal baby killer’ simply because my country was at war? One that no longer deserved compassion or worry, let alone a chance to explain herself or what was going.
Their silence was deafening, and I carried on indignantly puffing away on those vile cancer sticks that were quickly becoming my only source of comfort.
On the second week of the war I exploded on a girl, who I had considered my ‘best friend’ up until mere weeks before. Her grossly un-empathic answer told me that confronting any of these loved ones with my feelings was pointless. My suffering was irrelevant, probably I was irrelevant; they watched the news, they knew I was evil and deserving of every terrifying boom. Many sleepless nights ensued, where I tortured myself with arguments and counter-arguments, crossing the fine line between rage and tears multiple times before falling into a short anxious ridden sleep.
My father and my siblings assured me that I was being irrational. “You have to understand them, they have their own life going on. It’s hard to fathom what is going on in Israel. Don’t take it so personally. Don’t be so sensitive.” My father even added that his family was keeping themselves informed through him. “But you’re not me! You’re not here! How are you supposed to know?” I protested. Promising myself that, as far as I was concerned, all those that hadn’t contacted me no longer existed but in my wrath. My mother, in her wisdom, hugged me and said nothing. She knew better than to try reasoning with my wounded beast.
Then last night one of my cousins contacted me and added me to the family group. “Ah! Suddenly I’m family?” I replied her on a personal chat. I let her have it. All of my frustrations and anger came pouring out in vicious messages, as if she had been the sole culprit. I was being unfair, here she was finally reaching out to me and I used her as my scapegoat. “I thought of you, I talked about you… I had no idea what was going on” she fumbled for words, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you.”
I remained irate, “it’s too easy this way. What if my husband had been called to reserves? What if I was home alone waiting for him? What if he was one of the dead? None of you would even know! It’s a frog I simply cannot swallow”. Ambivalent between victimhood and self-righteousness I carried on like this for two hours, puffing away. She assured me it would be different from now on; if only I would give her the chance, that she adored me, saw me as her sister… I didn’t budge, “it’s too late, I can’t see myself ever forgetting this,” much like my cigarettes this catharsis didn’t feel as good as I had expected. Finally exhausted she gave up and I went to sleep.
Or better, tried to go to sleep. Her words and my unmoved angry replies swam around my head a million times. I had to decide if I was going to be the girl that let 50 days of indifference cancel out a history of love and friendship, or if I was going to be a grown up and accept her apologies. Swallow the so-called frog, and move on. This morning I looked at myself in the mirror, and decided I’d rather be the latter. Everyone, makes mistakes, I make multiple daily, who am I to not show kindness to someone that realized and apologized for theirs. I’d rather let go of my security blanket and make my peace with the deafening silence, giving it the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it wasn’t intended to be as personal as it felt.