Our struggle called life
I am that kid you see hanging out late at night, the kid that you hope your kids never befriend, and the kid you hope your child never turns out to be. I am that kid you give that extra-long stare at when I walk into shul. I dress different, look different, and act different. I am the kid who feels shunned by the community at large; I’m the kid you would categorize as off the derech.
I will take the liberty to write and speak my feelings for all of us kids, who are criticized for how we act, dress, and talk. I grew up in the same yeshiva home as you did; in the same community as you, went to the same schools as you, and yet I did not feel as if I belonged. The words “square peg in a round hole” fit me perfectly. I always felt judged, criticized, and an outsider. I never saw myself growing up and looking like a black hat yeshiva guy. I wanted to fit in, but I never felt like I did. So I turned to a crowd who lovingly accepted me as their own. This crowd wasn’t some of the best guys as you can assume, but we all loved hanging together and pursuing our dreams, our dreams being scoring girls, drugs, and alcohol.
Our group, and me as an individual, loved getting drunk, high, or using any method of numbing our pain. We sat around in the wee early hours of the morning, which was our time, the time when there were no people around to judge us, or make us feel unwelcome. It was our time to do as we pleased, and we used that time to drink, smoke up, and use any possible means of escaping our lonely depressing reality.
We did things to attract attention to ourselves, things most people in the Jewish community shunned. We would make parties late at night, make noise, and those things would bother our neighbors. So the neighbors would do the only logical thing they thought of, they would call the police. Not only did that not stop us, the only thing it would achieve would be to get us upset, and more withdrawn from the community. Never did they come over to us and talk to us like the mature adults we had craved to be. Never did they ask us about how we felt and why we did what we did. All we ever wanted was to be loved and accepted for who we were, yet every time we would go anywhere we would get that extra-long stare.
Our group was always bouncing around from one place to another. We would hang out in restaurants, pizza stores, and as we grew older, bars and clubs. The older we got the more we got used to the idea that we would never live a normal life. Some of us started getting into some hardcore drugs, and some stayed pretty much the same. Some went on to get over their grudge with society, moved on to new towns, and progressed to have normal healthy relationships. Some got married, and some became religious. Most of us ended up in detox centers, and rehabs, sometimes more than once. And a few of us passed away from drugs.
All we ever were searching for was acceptance. We found that acceptance within our group. I always wonder what some of us would be like now if an adult had walked over to us, sat us down, took the time to get to know us, said some encouraging words to us, and would accept us for who we were. It crosses my mind from time to time, that had that had happened maybe things would be different for some of us.
The reason I write this now, is because I want to share some of the struggles my group of friends and I went through. I write this with hope that someday I may publish it, and maybe someday, someone will read this, understand, and come to appreciate what some of us have gone through in our struggle called life. I pray that someday someone may read this, and when they see that kid I describe, walk over to him, ask him how his day was, what his name is, and what they can do to help him. You never know this maybe your kid someday…..