As the year comes to an end, as the war comes to an end, as the world comes to an end – these are the thoughts I contend with daily. Since October, I have been overtaken by a nagging sense of procrastination. Not in my work, but in other parts of my life – my home life, my relationships and friendships, my creative life, my hobbies, and interests. It all feels like an insurmountable task for which I have little enthusiasm. I manage the running of the house and home well enough, providing sourdough bread for toast, and our avocado and lemon tree deliver generously, but my enthusiasm has dwindled, and I find myself preparing the same meals week in, week out. It’s hard to pick up a creative pen or even see friends while this wound festers so close to the bone, but this is how it is living in Israel these days.
Though I did push myself to meet up with some girlfriends for lunch this week, one of whom works as a movement therapist with children. She told me she hasn’t danced since October. Dancing is her therapy, as it is mine. She dances daily, connecting to her body, her source, and her joy, but for three months now, she simply has not had the will or impetus to put on a track of music and allow herself to be in her bliss. Two of the girls have soldiers fighting deep in Gaza, and theirs is a daily anguished prayer I can only imagine. One of them sends her son a picture of the sunset every night, which he won’t get till he’s out because he has no contact with anyone while he’s in. One arrived in a state of mild panic and when I hugged her, I felt her trembling. Later she told me that she was suffering from PTSD, which she had managed well until October, when she fled the country hoping her grown children would follow. They didn’t and so she returned.
When this war began, I was halfway through reading Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book, The Body Keeps the Score. It is an in-depth exploration of how the brain processes trauma of different kinds, and therapies that do and don’t help. Talking is one that does not help much, which is why perhaps, when we do get together, we don’t talk much about how we are all processing this existential, national, and personal crisis. We talk about other things - our children, our love lives, work. But there is an underlying sadness, a dullness, which reminds me of mother’s last days when all my siblings gathered to meet over tea and hushed conversations while death hovered in the room next door.
After the October invasion, I got very quiet. I didn’t watch the news knowing that the horrific images would engrave themselves into my psyche, but as time passed, from bits and pieces I saw across my feed, it became impossible not to piece together the reality of what had happened. Everything started to crumble and with it my faith and much of my ability to feel anything real – pain as well as joy. All I could do was get through, day by day, hostage by hostage, bloodied story by bloodied story, violation by violation, soldier by soldier, funeral by funeral, grieving families, one after the other, after the other, so many shattered lives, so much sadness.
I understood that parts of my brain had shut down and that the best way to move through it was to move, physically, but the temptation to remain stagnant pulled hard.
I decided to take a dose of the homeopathic remedy I first took when I suffered a bout of post-natal depression after the birth of my first, called Sepia. It’s not a grief remedy and it’s not really a remedy for shock either. Aconite comes to mind as the best matched remedy for those directly affected by the trauma of the attack and of the ensuing and ongoing war. But Sepia seemed appropriate for me. I don’t usually treat myself, as I know myself too well, and the multiple layers are too entwined for me to weave out what is presenting. But it was clear enough, so I gave myself a dose of Sepia since I knew it had been a very good remedy years before.
Sepia is the homeopathic remedy for emotional stagnation. It is a woman’s remedy, a hormonal remedy. Though usually independent and grounded, in her Sepia state, she feels vulnerable to attack, because her resources have been depleted. Like the cuttlefish, she creates a screen around herself, ejecting a sepia ink, so that she can get away. She is the exhausted mother nutritionally depleted surrounded by hungry mouths to feed. She just wants to hide under her covers, to retire to her room and read a book or do nothing, stare out into space. She becomes curt, short tempered, critical, because she is protecting what is left of her wretched energy. She rejects her lover, her partner, her children, even though she knows she still loves them. She is overwhelmed and emotionally stagnant.
"Once the Sepia woman has compromised her true nature for long enough, she begins to lose her spirit. As this occurs, she experiences a gradual deadening of her appetite for life. She starts to live more and more like a robot, going through the motions of her usual activities, with no enthusiasm or motivation inside her. Because she has lost contact with her own life force, she feels sluggish, both mentally and physically…and her emotions are also blunted, producing a kind of indifference to everything". Phillip Bailey
Every morning as I wake with the sun, I think to myself, I should, I should, I should. I should walk, I should run, I should dance. But I don’t. It’s cold and I have no energy. But this morning, after taking the remedy, I did. I laid out my yoga mat, I saluted the sun, I stood on my head, and I smiled with my chest. Maybe today will be a better day, maybe next year will be a better year, maybe the war will come to an end. I’ll take my girlfriend to a dance class, and we will breathe joy back into our lives because this sadness, this collective grief will not be the end of this story. Our young soldiers are not fighting and dying to protect us for our collective lifeforce to die. Like the sepia ink, they are creating a screen, so we can get away, so we can live safely, not in despair, but in joy.
The nation of Israel lives – am Yisrael hai.