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Turning Tides

As told to Leah Gebber

I didn’t want Yom Kippur to end. I was 21, newly engaged, and come Ne’ilah I felt that my inner work was not quite done. I needed to continue pleading, I needed time before the shofar blew and the year ahead was sealed. Just a few weeks later, as I walked to the chuppah, I felt a certain thickness in the air, like I was wading through a sea of emotions. What did it mean?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I was just a regular girl. I never wanted the best, the greatest, spitz. Nor did I expect married life to be perfect. While we were dating,Daniel told me that at one point he felt very down in yeshivah, and I thought: Ah, he had a sprinkle of depression. Well, what of it? Most teens go through a difficult period at some time.

Right after the wedding, though, it was clear that Danielwas not okay. Was it the demands of marriage? The life changes? Fear? I didn’t know, but I knew that I would take care of him. I’m a gentle person, emotionally even-keeled, and I’d support him through whatever it was. We moved to Lakewood a couple of weeks after the wedding — although far from our native South Africa, Daniel had learned there at one particularly productive phase as a bochur and he’d always planned to return. I thoughtDaniel would be pleased — he had pushed hard that we make the move so quickly. But far away from home,Daniel’s behavior quickly spiraled out of control. Medication, therapy — these were tiny, ineffectual Band-Aids against a huge problem. It was obviousDaniel was seriously ill.

I tried. I tried so hard to lead a semblance of a normal life. I had a job lined up, and I was there on time every day. I cooked supper. Cleaned the house. I should have been on top of the world — newly married, fresh life. But my neighbor commented that I looked as if the entire world rested on my shoulders.

I was in touch with our family rav all the time, and he even took the trouble to visit us when he was in the States a month later. He saw that the situation was unworkable. “You’ll probably have to get divorced,” he said.

The response left my mouth before I had time to consider it: “We don’t do that in our family.”

 

 

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