Growing up as far back as I remember, I was never happy.
I had everything I physically wanted. grew up in a stable, comfortable home, two parents, average kid in school, friends, but somehow I always felt different, never comfortable in my own skin
As a child I knew money was not the key to happiness, but Didn’t know what was.
I looked at the secular world thinking they had something I was missing.
Since I grew up in a religious home, I logically concluded that i wasn’t happy because I was religious.
rules and restrictions were holding me back from true freedom and happiness.
And so, i dropped religion in return for happiness.
initially my parents were tough on me, but over time they were advised to take on a softer approach. To show me love otherwise I would rebel more, they didn’t want to ‘rock the boat’.
I became more confused.
If religion was so sacred, why were people telling me it was ok if I wasn’t?
How were they getting manipulated by me if they were indeed correct?
How could we both be right?
Was real truth just self created by a persons perception?
I was getting mixed messages from people I thought were supposed to be the specialists in this field.
What did they stand for?
What was the true meaning of life?
I went to Israel at 18, finally, total freedom.
The first night I hit the town and got drunk, I finally felt alive and in control. My fears left me and I felt invincible.
I chased danger since that made me feel alive. I hung out with Palestinian criminals in Arab villages including Bet Lechem, East Jerusalem and Ramallah.
I knew I was entering dangerous territory, especially as I found out Sharia law is still strictly practiced in Ramallah, I encountered a huge portrait of Arafat hanging in a house I visited in East Jerusalem, and the people I were with would hide when the police were around.
There was a time i clearly remember, driving in the back of a tinted car, deep into the heart of Silwan, being made to switch vehicles in the dead of night, and I thought, ‘i may not make it back out from here’, and I started writing on my phone all the street names I passed, so if I went missing, hopefully someone would find my phone and be able to trace back where I was.
Despite understanding all this, I continued drinking and engaging in reckless behaviour every night.
I got into altercations with friends, the police, and was hospitalised a couple times with alcohol poisoning. Alcohol and danger gave me excitement in my life, why would I stop?
I started a relationship with an Israeli Arab and after a couple volatile years, he asked me to marry him.
Neither of us had much money, and I wanted to keep it quiet, so we planned to marry in an Islamic court and just get an official wedding certificate there.
At first, when introduced to his family, they were extremely welcoming.
His religious brother Invited me to live in his house on the family property next door the mosque for the few weeks leading up to marriage, and then we would be able to live together in accordance to Islamic law.
His mother, wearing a hijab, would cook for me, brought me tea and took care of me when I was sick.
I overlooked the emotional abuse, family history of violence and jail time etc, since I believed he would make me happy.
I finally had a family, a place to live, and I felt a part of something.
At times, I had a few brief moments of extremely uncomfortable clarity – I was physically afraid, I didn’t want to raise a family with this man or in this environment and wanted to leave, but Was the alternative any better?
What else did I have to live for?
I tried to push these thoughts to the back of my head because I had no idea how to deal with them, and I didn’t want to face the fact that maybe I was making a huge mistake.
I flew home for a friends wedding and just before my return flight, I suddenly felt trapped and scared.
I couldn’t go through with it.
I couldn’t get married to this guy, cut my own family off forever and be trapped to live with him and his religion, it was too permanent, my future kids would suffer too as a result.
I finally got what I wanted – total freedom and acceptance, but It wasn’t what I wanted anymore.
I was confused, what did I really want?
A couple years of back and forth to Israel, I decided to leave for good, start my life anew.
I made a conscious decision to be selfish, to live for me, do whatever I needed to make myself happy.
I returned to my home country, rented an apartment, Got a job, spent my free time shopping, traveling the world and partying.
I finally had it all, Now what?
I was as lost as ever.
I was 24, living the ‘perfect’ life but no reason to be alive.
Was this all there was to life? It just couldn’t be.
And if it was, why continue along this endless path to nowhere?
I became close to a religious Arab, told him I was very interested in Islam. We studied together and I even fasted part of Ramadan.
I broke off contact when I found out that even though he forbade me drinking and partying as it was against Islam, he would still do those things on the side. I couldn’t stand fake people.
I was now living in my own place, drinking heavily, alone, taking pills, multiple overdoses and hospitalisations for alcohol poisoning.
I was hopeless, didn’t see a way out.
on the outside, all was perfect, but inside i was dead.
My skin was noticeably greying, I would cover it with makeup and I had to start drinking in the morning to stop my hands from shaking so bad, and to feel somewhat ok. Maybe I needed to try harder drugs?
I would cry for hours, alone, every night, literally heartbroken, confused as ever. I had tried everything just to be ok, but I just wasn’t.
I was losing hope, no strength left to carry on, what was I fighting for?
I felt like the world was moving on and I was left behind.
Was I the only one that felt this way?
I felt my end was near. I went to sleep each night praying i wouldn’t wake up.
I overdosed again. I toon a bunch of pills whilst already intoxicated, I panicked called an ambulance, and whilst the ambulance was on its way, before losing consciousness, I continued to take more pills!
The next morning I just couldn’t comprehend why I did that! I was afraid to die and continued to take more! There was something seriously wrong with me! I couldn’t stop!
A couple nights later, extremely drunk and semi conscious, I had a moment where I sincerely prayed, I simply said, ‘please, God, just show me what to do’.
And He did.
I told my mentor, ‘i don’t want to die but it’s going to happen.’
He recommended a program in Florida called Torah and the Twelve Steps.
I would try anything, and took a plane to Florida.
I was expecting to be ‘fixed’ somehow, I was used to being a victim and letting others do the hard work for me, and therefore was resistant to the honest soul searching that was needed for me to get better.
what choice did I have though?
I knew I couldn’t go back without changing – I would end up dead.
After some extreme resistance, I finally decided to just listen, to be open to see if there was an alternative for me.
I saw people around me getting better through the process they were doing, and I decided to give it my best shot.
I did some honest soul searching.
I saw I been chasing happiness all my life.
drinking had given me some sort of pleasure at the beginning, but turned on me, and I hadnt wanted to admit that, since I didn’t know of any alternative.
I also realized there must be more to me than just the physical, since The physical had never been enough, I had always wanted more.
I realized I had a body AND a soul.
My soul was searching for a connection with its creator.
Id been trying to fill a spiritual void with material things, it could never be filled. Id travelled the world to find the answer, it had been within me all this time, I just hadn’t wanted to face that. I had wanted to believe I could figure it all out and fix myself.
When I saw this, the dark realisation hit me that I was an addict, however much I wanted to stop drinking/using drugs/ending up dead, I could not stop on my own. It was impossible.
I was powerless over drinking. I always went back. I saw this clearly from my own experiences!
In the beginning it was the search for spirituality that caused me to drink and the drunk/high/rush mimics spirituality in this world, but after a while it turns and there’s no way out besides finding true spirituality.
It wasn’t anything physical or emotional that caused me to drink.
In fact i saw that I drank when I didn’t want to!
Addiction is a symptom of a spiritual problem.
Therefore the only solution had to be spiritual.
And In those darkest moments when I realized that I was doomed to die an alcoholic death, when I realized that this was not a physical or mental problem that could be humanly fixed, I found what I was truly looking for. I found the answer.
I found God.
God was the only one that could save me.
There was no one besides Him, and I had been chasing a connection with Him my entire life, I just had too big of an ego to face the truth.
This was the most powerful experience of my life.
To go from the deepest, darkest depth of despair, from the brink of death, to seeing that God would save my life if I let Him.
To see God was waiting for me to come back to Him, To see God had made me an addict, had made me powerless to stop my own self destruction just so I would be forced to come back to Him.
nothing and no one could fix me besides Him.
At that moment, I was filled with tremendous joy and hope, I finally found the answer. I could and would be saved
I could finally stop chasing, the void would be filled.
I decided to live my life the way God intended, to live according to His will, not mine.
I continued to look into my life.
Why had I been resentful at religion, my school, parents, community in the first place?
I acknowledged how I had provoked them all and then blamed them when they reacted.
How I was looking for the bad just so I didn’t have to take responsibility for my life. How I had ‘proved’ Judaism was an evil cult so I could live guilt free.
When I understood all the resentments were self created so I could live how I wanted.
I asked myself why was Judaism more true than other religions, was it?
And I didn’t stop until I found the answers.
I finally admitted I was wrong all along and they were right.
Judaism was Gods guidance for us living in a physical world.
And I restarted. I started slowly keeping Shabbat, kosher, and i went back to seminary so I could start living my life the way God had intended.
I had to literally face death to come back to life.
I hope people can learn from my experience, and more addicts don’t have to die as there truly is a way to recover.