Going Bald for G-d

…But I don’t even believe in God, I do believe in HaShem. Huh? Yeah, it’s not the same thing to me, but that’s a different blog post altogether.

I have been quietly fighting depression. I have never actually been depressed before. I was on a dark path that was leading me to a bad place. I knew I had to get out of it or something awful would happen. My sister was the only one who knew the magnitude of this. I hid it- quite well.

I am a deeply private person. I have never used social media to discuss my family, my marriage, my divorce or my sex life- nothing personal. I do not plan to do so today either, but acknowledging that I have had a rough past few months seems fairly benign. The details are superfluous and belong only to me. However, I am writing this because someone asked me to do it. This individual told me that some women might find it empowering.

I am a big believer in performing action items. Words, conversations and texts are not pro-active. I feel strongly that doing is evidence of our beliefs and feelings. Without acting on our notions, we are like zombies, walking around dead inside. In order to truly live, we must understand that living is a verb. I have made a life choice to live my life as a verb- an action item, not to talk it to death or write about it.

My Aliyah was the epitome of an action item. We have enough social media bullshit, Op-Eds and articles to quench all the thirsty mental masturbation of our species.

I looked in the mirror two weeks ago and said- enough is enough. You must do something today to make this suffering stop. Then it came to me, quite suddenly. I walked out the door and bought electric clippers at the Superpharm on Yaffo. I went home and shaved my head, completely bald.

Hair.

It is the norm for women in society to have hair.

A bald woman represents illness, chemotherapy, dying and it just looks so Holocosty.

It once represented a means to get rid of lice.

Some women in the military have opted to shave their heads.

Yet very few do it- just because.

It looks butch.

People judge and think you are a lesbian.

I didn’t care, not one bit.

Yet I do live in Jerusalem, where it is not socially acceptable to see a bald woman in public.

I did it anyway.

It was an act of defiance.

It was an act of deliverance to save myself.

I would purge myself of societal female trappings.

I would abandon the shell I had been living in.

The last conversation I had with my sister on the phone struck me. She said-

“You need to remember who you are and why you are there.” I held onto this statement and realized that indeed, I had forgotten my identity in a sense- it had been swallowed up, almost entirely, but I was about to salvage it.

I NEEDED TO RECONNECT and performing a physical task would connect me to what was going on internally. I needed renewal. I needed to refocus, to snap myself out of this darkness and hit the reset button of my soul.

The moment I did it, I was free. The blackness began to fade and I realized that I do not need to become anyone or anything. I do not need to be someone or something.

I am me. I will just be.

I have always known this- particularly as a Jewbu, but sometimes we are derailed and need a gentle reminder. This was not so gentle a reminder and that is okay.

There was one more thing I needed to do. I used to wear a necklace with charms on it. One is an amulet with the Shema in it, one is a Hamsa and the other is a Solomon stone bead. After I made Aliyah, I quit wearing it because I realized I didn’t need to wear my identity like I had in the diaspora. I didn’t need a reminder of who I am. I am Israeli now and I live in the Jewish state. So, I hung it on the wall next to my bed.

After shaving my head, I got out the necklace and put it on. I needed the reminder. I needed to feel it on my skin and I said the Shema.

I didn’t go out in public for a couple of days and when I did, I put on a beanie or a skullcap. I didn’t want to be judged and Israelis are so forward; strangers ask you personal questions like it’s nothing. Then I realized something- if I am going to cover my head, then this was all for nothing. I must own this.

The next week my yogi saw me and was very supportive. At the end of our session during savasana, I opened my eyes and said “mikvah.” I knew that I needed to go to the mikvah for a deeply symbolic reason. However, I am in Israel, not the U.S.- this means a single woman is not halachically permitted to enter the mikvah. I did some research and found one in the Galilee, but that was quite a commute for me. I realized I could immerse in any natural body of water and that would qualify as a mikvah under Jewish law. So, I went to the sea, in Tel Aviv.

It was nice to be there in any case. I didn’t cover my head and no one asked me any questions. When I returned to Jerusalem my head was uncovered. No one asked me any questions here either.

I have seen two people since I did this, my yogi and a friend. I sent selfies to my sister, my daughter and my mom. They were all so supportive, especially my daughter. My hair grows fast, but I didn’t realize how fast. It is growing ¼ inch a week. That means in a month I will have an inch of hair. Right now I have salt and pepper stubble. It is such an ego destroyer, which I like. I’ve been playing with makeup, wearing dramatic chandelier earrings and experimenting with my new look. There are days I feel ugly and days I feel beautiful- it can even change by the hour. Will I go platinum when I have enough to color? Will I go back to dark brown or light brown? I don’t know.

My mom told me when I was a baby I had a birthmark on the back of my head near the nape of my neck, I can see it now. I’ve always had short hair, but this is like being naked. Everyday it is scary to walk out the door. I haven’t even been to the shuk yet! It’s amazing what happens when you do something that scares you. It takes away the taboo, the fear and the power.

I do not feel darkness anymore, I feel light. I have returned to my blog and to capturing Jerusalem, where I share what I see- beauty, always beauty.

The matter that had caused this period of darkness in my life requires me to re-read this piece often. I am far from well and whole. It has become an affirmation. I knew no one was coming to rescue me, I knew I had to save myself. If need be, I will shave it again, but who knows?

As far as the title of this piece goes, I do feel that I have reconnected myself with HaShem. It is that unpronounceable, unspeakable, unfathomable quality… It is the energy that runs through every living creature, every tree, every rock, every insect. It is that energy that runs through the universe, connecting all of us. It is the Oneness. It is that I am standing in the center of the universe and I don’t have to do anything, but just be. HaShem is the ultimate be-er. Being bald is about just being.

 

 

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About jewess

I am a Judaic Studies academic who loves all facets of Jewry. I am at my core and artistic being, as I am a classically trained pianist and composer. I love aesthetics and my dog. I am a misanthrope, but try to be kind to everyone.
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