Michelle Orrelle
Live & Learn

How do we manage? How do we sleep?

Dear friend,

You asked How do we manage? How do we sleep?

In the back of my mind all the time lurks the scream, the tears, the desire to curl up in a ball and sob,  the wish to crawl under a table and hide.

In the front of my mind is the grown woman who starts the day with a deep breath in and out, and literally counts her blessings: Right now I am safe, my husband and children are safe, and I am part of the extended family of Israel that is taking action. I think of the soldiers at the border, the people one and two rows behind them on the ground like all of us volunteers, and of the people behind us – you and all our other friends and family around the world who are sending money, support, supplies and adding your strength and voices to the effort.

So, with the feeling that I am not alone, I think ok, what is the best thing I can do now for this extended community,  and I manage myself as follows:

Routine is key — wake up in the morning at a regular time, check the news, call my mother in Australia, check in with other family members here, in Australia, and in London via WhatsApp, then ask Ben 25, (my eldest who is running the local volunteer center as he’s not yet been called up) what is needed today, then I plan my schedule.

My goal is to do half volunteer work and half paid work each day as we all need to keep our incomes going, and we need to help others do the same. So rather than feeling guilty for working, I feel it is a key activity so people can put food on their tables too. Keep in mind so many people here are buying supplies and donating,  and they won’t be able to keep it up as so many businesses and shops are closed because everyone has been called up. Locally, money will get tight, and we will rely on the rest of the world to keep up the pace of donating.

And while I’m working, so many people ask me how they can help, what can they do. If they offer to donate I send them links, and if not, I ask them to please use their voices to speak out publicly against Hamas – to condemn these terrorists and their atrocities. That is the one clear message that everyone can spread without hesitation.

During the day once, twice or three times, I check in with my neighbors and close friends who have one or two children at the front and or in Gaza now. I don’t get to fall apart as I need to call and hug them regularly, and they don’t get to fall apart as they have to be there for their soldier children with a bright voice and a steady hand. That is the job.

Of course I look at the news, but I must limit my intake or it erodes my ability to function.

I try not to watch the videos as they destroy me. The images of the ones I have seen haunt me, paralyze me, render me useless. I look at Facebook. I post, and repost messages to help bring back the hostages, I read a lot of online papers and news channels and listen to the Israeli news, but we also turn it off and watch a feel-good TV series or movie for a while to get a mental break.

I wake up in the night and check the news again, then force myself to stop reading it and go back to sleep so I can function tomorrow. I check WhatsApp and Facebook again, look at some friends’ holiday snaps which are a delightful escape and put my phone down – face down.

This will be a long war. We have to be in shape for the long haul.  We have to manage ourselves.

I turn on my side, remember that so many people around the world are standing behind me and I must hold my place in the line to support those in front of me.

And I go back to sleep.

So there it is. Asked and answered.


About the Author
Michelle is an Australian Jew who moved to Israel in 2004 with her three US born sons, and British-born, Israeli-raised husband. She is the co-founder of Crew 972 animation production company, Director, Arizona-Israel Trade and investment Office, Residence Event Manager for Australian Ambassador to Israel, and guides at ANU Museum of the Jewish People.
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