A Splendid Jewcation
I started exploring Judaism in the spring this year, and it didn't take me long at all to decide to completely submerse myself into it. I began my conversion process under the supervision of a highly qualified Rabbi shortly thereafter and zoomed through almost a year's worth of Jewish education in a matter of two months. I had begun learning to read Hebrew with an online teacher and we were really finding our feet with our weekly observance of Shabbat.
When I left for Juneau in July, I made the extremely responsible decision to let my Rabbi know I would need to take a small break from our weekly meetings. This may seem like no big deal to any normal, well-adjusted person, but for me, it was indicative of true mental growth. I have always tried to push through everything and juggle everything no matter how many balls I let fall. This time, I thought about it, and there was no reason to continue weekly meetings during such a stressful time (and that was before I had any idea just how truly stressful it would be).
Once the impending snowball of drama was truly rolling, I was very grateful that I had let Rabbi know I was needing an indeterminate amount of time away. Before I knew it, we were back home, and my sister was making preparations to leave us soon. I didn't want to wait any longer to reestablish my journey to Judaism. I procrastinated for a few days before finally getting around to sending the email that I wanted to continue, but it got done fairly quickly after I had decided on it.
In any other situation, this would have felt like a door slamming shut in my face.
I have a fun disorder that puts the cherry on my autism sundae: it's called pathological demand avoidance, and it contributes to my lack of executive functioning.
Stopping in the middle of something, whether big or small, makes resuming it a responsibility; and as soon as importance is placed on it, I freeze up and cannot accomplish the goal of finishing. This is also part of the reason that I try to do everything, all the time - I have a valid fear that if I take a break, I won't be able to finish.
We jumped back in, ignoring the few failed attempts at Shabbat that had transpired while we were operating in total chaos. As Rosh Hashanah approached, I made many plans in advanced and orchestrated how we, as a family, would celebrate the holiday. Fascinatingly enough, my desire to grow and learn as a Jew-to-be is still absolutely intact. I can't help but contrast this with how I have felt in the past when I recognized that I had "strayed" from my spiritual pursuits. Unlike previous experiences, I don't feel any guilt or shame at taking time to focus on other things that took up the majority of my mental, emotional, and physical capacities. I can view it objectively -I took a step back when needed, and when I was able, I reevaluated and kept going.
I don't view this as confirmation of righteousness. It's not a sign from the universe and nothing coalesced from a deity to show me the way. It simply confirmed for me what I needed in that moment; the journey to Jewishness is not one of obligation, but of desire.
And maybe still, in spite of everything, my path was bashert all along.