Letter to Kibbutz Israel

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Dear Sir/ Madam

I grew up in a tiny village. Since a little girl I was slightly eccentric, a bit of a loner that loved books and anything that was pretty. My parents ran a general dealer and a petrol station. My mom, dad, sister and brother were and are still today my best friends. We did everything together and we shared everything.

At the age of 6 I went to boarding school 400km’s away from home. My brother and sister looked out for me most of my schooling career, drying the tears from missing home and nursing me when I was ill. We raised each other. We raised ourselves.

I was always outgoing at school, had average grades, was in sports teams, had my close knit group of friends and I was always the funny girl, a riot even. Pretty much the reigning queen of fantasy land, try and overthrow me, I dare you.

At the age of 16 I developed an eating disorder. What started out at as a simple diet, in an all girls school turned into a life threatening illness. I lost weight and realised that I was actually good at it, it was a distraction and it became a best friend. I had no idea what was happening to me. All of a sudden the bubbly girl with the scatter brain became incredibly focused and I became focused on food. It consumed me. Calories, diet and exercise. It was a distraction, it was my secret and it was an escape. It was so much easier to fuel my eating disorder than to face the realities of growing up. Finishing school and going to university, my sister getting married and my brother going to university. I have always been terrified of growing up, I’m the baby of the family, it just happened so. So everyone chaperones and looks out for me and every step I take and every decision I make has always been judged by everyone. Everyone is always looking out for me, always ready to catch me when I fall.

When I was 19, the eating disorder had consumed me and developed into an anxiety disorder. At the time I didn’t know what it was, I all of a sudden just found myself wanting to be alone. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life? Who am I? What do I want from life? Everything scared me. I isolated myself. Whilst all my friends were experiencing university, I was questioning the world. I would go to club and die of utter boredom because I found it so transparent. So I instead nested in my tiny world of the eating disorder, it was safe and it was comfortable being wrapped up in the arms of bulimia. The one thing that would never abandon me and that was all mine – my eating disorder.

I eventually decided I couldn’t live that way any longer. I couldn’t run and run until my body ached. I couldn’t starve anymore and let my survival instinct take over and demolish 3 hamburgers and a cake in an effort to find fuel to make it through another day. I surely could no longer purge every time I ate in hope of releasing all my anxiety and problems and issues. I couldn’t put my life on hold and allow a mental illness to rule everything. So I decided to make a change and I went to therapy.

I went on medication and I booked into a psychiatric clinic. I had enough, I was doing this. I didn’t care what anyone thought or said. I was doing this, I was getting better, I was going to heal and most importantly I was going to live. I was going to claim what was rightfully mine and get the bubbly sparkly green eyed girl back.

I was in extensive therapy, managed to recover from my eating disorder. As far as recovery is possible – eating disorders and depression are illnesses. They never leave you, you just learn to monitor yourself and you become aware.

I studied psychology for two years (it feels as if I am constantly being drawn back into this field) but I dropped out after the second year as I needed to be fuelled by creativity. I went on to study fashion design – and I dominated. I was top of the class in second and third year and I won the final fashion show award for best designer. I excelled as I have always been incredibly passionate and driven and once I set my mind to something, not only will I achieve it, I will dominate.

When I was 22 I did an unpaid internship with a fashion house, Guillotine, and went on to work there for the next 3 years. It was incredible, I loved my boss and I loved my job. I learnt so much about the fashion industry and every day was a challenge and a dream.

Then my world once again was shattered and tested.

On the 20th of December 2014 I stood in a church in front of a priest, my closest friends and family and God and I committed myself to the man of my dreams. Until death do us part I would love and care for my husband. Well no one says in the vows ‘until we emotionally destroy each other and death does us part’. No one thinks of your emotional, psychological and physical death, where you basically just a shell. I was 24, was I ready for marriage? Yes, I believe I was.

He was my best friend, my soul mate and the man I wanted to spend and cherish every moment with. Until he told me on my wedding day that I was a child, was not a wife, that I hogged the lime light and that I was self absorbed. On the 25th of December he asked for an annulment because he had made the biggest mistake of his life marrying me. I blatantly refused, we committed our lives to each, we loved each other so we were going to fight. Well at least I was going to fight.

Things crumbled in what felt like a blink of an eye. By February I was having anxiety attacks and I was back in the familiar arms of the eating disorder. It was my way to cope. We’re holistic beings and we tend to gravitate towards what we know, and for me that was self sabotage and self blame. How could I have ruined my husbands life this way? How could I be this vain, superficial person that obsessed about their weight? Well I wasn’t, I had an illness and it has nothing to do with weight. In his ignorance I was judged and called weak and attention seeking. (Honestly, if you going to judge mental illness, I suggest you use better adjectives). I was a loving and caring wife and I soon realised that I was not enough for this man as no matter what I did, I was always wrong. He was hard working and I was lazy and spoilt and so on – it bores me to speak about it.

Again I was forced to take control of my life, in May 2015 I went to see a psychologist and a psychiatrist because I refused to fall even deeper into the eating disorder and the depression. Eventually after a month or so I made the decision that I could no longer live with myself and my husband – I had to make a change. Despite being told by my husband that he had been thinking about being with other woman and that if I left him he would kill himself. I left. We are only responsible for ourselves. If he wanted to kill himself then that would be unfortunate. I was going to choose me. I was going to be selfish for the first time in a long time.

One day I woke up and half my life was gone. I naturally got very depressed but I did the work. I thrived for 6 years after I was hospitalised at the age of 19. I didn’t drink medication for 6 years and I didn’t attend therapy for 6 years. So I fell and I got depressed again- So what! I caught myself and I am picking up the pieces. It is what it is. I’ve been here before, I can handle it. I’ll get out of this and I’ll reach the other side a more mature woman.

I moved out and I stayed with my best friends for 6 weeks and then moved into an apartment with a single bed and no stove. My clothes are packed in my kitchen cupboards and my socks are stuffed into a drawer that traditionally would hold knives and forks and I eat on my floor. Believe it or not, I’m happier than ever now… but it took work and the amount I have learnt and grown can never be taken from me.

So where am I now? I am in a coffee shop writing to you. I am 26 years old and I am divorced. I have depression – I don’t see how this defines me at all, it’s not a character flaw, its a chemical imbalance. I am not sitting in a catatonic state of shock and sadness. I am stable, some days its difficult to wake up and face the world and there are moments where my eating disorder tries to lure its way back. But I’m getting there. I am recovering and I am putting every shred of my being into this journey. I’m doing good and I’m grounded.

On the 19th of December 2015 I resigned from my 3 year long job because I was no longer growing, I needed a change. I loved my boss and I enjoyed what I did but I know I was stagnating. I have to grow and I have to learn.

So why Israel? Why the kibbutz? Honestly I cant answer that. There’s just something that made me decide that that is where I wanted to be. That is where the next chapter of my life is going to take place. Every time someone asks if I am sure about this, am I not going to change my mind? I am not. This is what I am doing, it’s happening. Come hell or high water it’s happening.

There is just something that keeps drawing me to Israel and to the Kibbutz. I don’t know if I am waiting on a miracle or a spiritual awakening when I get there. All I know is that I’m being drawn there. I’m opening Pandoras box and God alone knows what I am about to discover, But I’m doing and I will tackle it.

So here I sit. I am going to book my ticket and I’m coming to Israel. I need to take life into my own hands and walk this path right now. Sorry I cant wait much longer, if there is one thing I learned in 2015, it’s that time is fleeting. I’m coming to Israel and I’ll be backpacking around and I’ll be exploring and most importantly I will be living and I will be free.

So by the time you get this, I hope to be walking the streets of Tel Aviv and you’re welcome to contact me if you want me to be a volunteer and enjoy what I have to offer.

Until then.

Kind regards

Danielle

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