First off, let me start with an apology. I’ve been a little out of touch recently, and it’s all because of one specific reason: I’m moving.
Why is a complicated, rather irritating matter. However, I can tell you I’m happy with this change. Very happy indeed. What you don’t know is how shocking of a concept this is. Furthermore, sometimes, such as this time, when I’m experiencing a significant change in my life, I become bizarrely contemplative and introspective, and sometimes I actually take the effort to write said musings down.
If you knew me, you would know I hate Change, something stereotypical of an INFJ such as myself. However, throughout the course of my life, change has been rather frequent. Now I’m not talking normal stuff. In fact, I don’t know what normal would be, nor how one would define that. Normalcy is an arbitrary ontology. For me, normal is actually living in a constant state of Change, even though I hate it.
Of course, what I don’t mean is the change of Time and all his prowess. Naturally, I’m going to grow older. I’m going to evolve, adapt, and thus change. Each day my cells are renewing themselves like some mediocre version of a Time Lord. Change is also not limited to myself or my experiences. It also applies to my family, my friends, nature, our world, society, etc. Natural, evolutionary change is unavoidable.
That said, the Change I’m referring to, more specifically, is unexpected, sudden, unforeseeable, unpredictable Change, whether beneficial or tragic. It is this Change which has been a constant throughout my life in addition to the natural changes we all undergo due to Time.
Why do I hate this specific type of Change? Because I never want to be caught off guard again, unprepared and, most importantly, vulnerable.
You see, childhood was rather tragic for me due to some of these unexpected changes which occurred, changes which were traumatic, life-altering, etc. As such, Change has always been a part of my every day life. Also, bizarrely enough, sudden, unpredictable changes keep occurring to me. I don’t know what it’s like to live without such changes (and believe me when I say I do not go looking for them either). That said, when I was younger, I developed this apprehension, bitterness, and resentment to Change of all kinds, even that which was/is good. Being an INFJ only augmented it.
Trauma is a very real thing, and its effects run deep in the psyche. Deeper than imaginable. I’m still battling mine to this day. I’m not as quick to succumb to its grasp. I am able to defend myself more easily, and am more contentious of its icy grip. Only I still have moments when something catches me off guard, and I crumble. Those moments are decreasing, becoming few and far between, but they exist.
How can I tell? Well, for starters, this most recent Change I’m experiencing has not caused me to enter a state of psychosis or existentialism questioning the fabric of reality. Strangely, I find myself reacting the polar opposite of what I usually would. I’m excited, hopeful, and, I daresay, enjoying this process.
Thus, I would conclude I’m not stuck in my ways. Being the somewhat self-aware individual that I am, knowing the patterns my journey seems to take, I believe I have grown to no longer resent such inevitable shifts, no matter how petty or significant. Also, I’m not bitter anymore; haven’t been for a while now. I’m more dull and tolerant since Change is so commonplace to me.
In comparison, a few years ago when I was in a similar situation of needing to relocate unexpectedly, I was terrified, stressed, anxious, and all that goes with it. I even questioned the purpose and meaning of my life. I did not handle the change very well, at least on an internal, mental level. On the outside, I may have looked fine, wearing the stone façade I’m so capable of; however, internally, a tempest raged. The only person who can bear witness is my sister, who unfortunately suffered through some of those tempestuous waves of my mood during that time of our lives.
Now, I’m not only older (and obviously wiser, ha), but I have learned something which is the only factor helping me face similar challenges head-on without unwavering in the face of such unpredictability, and that is trust.
Before I continue, allow me to break the ice by stating an obvious fact which just needs to be said: I’m a religious person. My religion is a part of me, who I am, and my journey. In fact, it is probably so intrinsic to my being due to this very topic on which I am writing. Thus, if you do not care for such ideologies and philosophies, stop reading now. It only gets “worse” from here.
Part of my journey has been learning to become a better version of myself. Why? Well, why not? Why would I want to stay selfish, unkind, and self-aggrandizing? Who does it benefit? Certainly no one I care about, and not even myself. However, such morals without a source, a foundation are futilely capricious to say the least. There must be a foundation. Mine is, and has always, been Torah.
Additionally, I use the language of MBTI to help me articulate myself –– my psyche, my soul –– not only to others but also to me, for like other INFJs, understanding my own feelings, my self has always been an endless battle. Thus, I can now easily tell you how in the past, during times of stress, I would be functioning out of my “grip” when before I was clueless and unable to articulate anything with precision except melodramatic, esoteric renderings of my internal struggles.
I know now what it looks like when my grip begins to take over, how I begin relying on my tertiary Introverted Thinking (Ti) and inferior Extroverted Sensing (Se) in times of stress. I can recall previous moments when I was experiencing copious amounts of stress, and point out different reactions, thoughts, or actions I did which were solely based out of this grip function. I can even explain how I know when I’ve even surpassed my grip functions into my shadow functions.
As of now, I still lack the precise language to articulate my shadow-self since I am still learning this side of me, but I do intuit it. I feel it. I know it’s there and when it begins to take hold. I’ve even learned to embrace this dark side of me, knowing sometimes –– in only the very proper contexts, which is usually, if not only, when I am completely and totally alone –– I can unleash the monster, allowing myself to experience whatever pain, anger, anguish, or sorrow I’m deeply feeling, which in turn allows me to regain control, letting my Introverted Intuition (Ni) come back to the forefront of being the dominant function out of which I operate.
However, all this is futile, empty, vain knowledge if I have no application.
Recently, my rabbi said something quite profound to our congregation. “Trust is knowing and believing someone will protect you in your vulnerability.” Unfortunately, that is a horrible paraphrase because I’m not that astute of a talmidim, or student, but I think the concept still communicates what he was teaching us.
For me, through the combination of my inherent foundation in Torah and my minuscule MBTI knowledge (and no small amount of effort from my rabbi and rebbetzin), I have applied all the aforementioned to learn to trust as he described. I’ve learned to trust my family, my friends, my rabbi and rebbetzin, my congregation, and most importantly, Hashem.
I think another way to describe this trust is allowing others to love me. This is an area of weakness and inefficiency for me. “How can I let them love me when I do not trust them?” is usually what I ask myself. A logical question, sure, but what if perhaps they are one and the same?
There was a time when I never contentiously considered this, that trusting was practically executed by letting someone love me. And if I did, I was pathetically immature or absurdly conditional about it. Since, I think I’ve slowly but surely been tearing down my self-built walls to allow this trust, or love, to naturally occur.
It is a continuous struggle I think all of us have as humans. We are too often hurt by those close to us, and as a result, we close our souls off to the world, not allowing anyone in close enough to touch those deep places where we have been so deeply wounded before. Sometimes, it even goes a step further in consequence, and we forget how to love ourselves.
My journey has been one of learning to not only trust others again, to let them love me, but most importantly to love myself.
I’m not very good at it. I still have moments when I act like a selfish child, but that’s part of my journey, of growing. It’s not going to happen overnight. Where’s the fun in that? Where’s the drama, the rising action, the climax, the resolution? If everything we wanted came to fruition overnight, our lives would have no plot. It would be utterly and ludicrously boring.
My plot, my journey did not begin this last week when my apartment flooded, forcing me to relocate. Nor did it begin a little over 3 years ago whenever I joined my congregation. It did not start, either, when I left everything I ever knew behind –– my home and family –– to go out on an “adventure in the great wide somewhere” as I moved from Texas to Kansas City. The journey of learning to trust did not even begin when as a small child of ten I saw my mother severely wounded, lying comatose in a hospital bed, not knowing if she would ever wake up again.
No, my journey began the moment I was formed in my mother’s womb, for this is why we were created, why each of us are here: to learn to trust Hashem.
Does He cause the tragedy, the adversary? Of course not. Life is messy. Rather, we can choose to lean on Him for support or find ways of securing our lives through our own means. It is in choosing Him we find rest, we find peace, even in the midst of such trials, for only He can provide such protection, stability, and care.
Why else would we face such adversaries, even our most powerful foe of all: Self? I believe it is for no other reason but to learn to trust and therefore love Him, and love Him I do.
I can’t help it. Where else would I go? To who else would I cling? Without Him, I am nothing. My life testifies to that. In all my situations, especially when I have had to face such unexpected change, the only one who ever provided for me was Him. Not my biological father, my friends, and especially not myself. It was Hashem who guided me through such darkness, especially the darkness of my own soul.
Through such times, He acted on my behalf, hearing my pleas and answering me. He cared for and loved me in an intimate way no one else ever had. By this, His love for me, I have in turn learned to love Him, and I have also begun to see how others do the same. Now, even the unimaginable has happened: I’m experiencing change, and I’m enjoying it. It’s incredulous.
Thus, all that is left for me to say is this: in learning to embrace the inevitable, Change, I have learned not only to enjoy it, but also how to trust and therefore love Him more. And it is to Him I will forever cling.