HER STORY #65 - anonymous
That’s About Me
I’m 32 years old.
I’m happily married, and I have a one-year old daughter.
I’m a psychologist for children, currently doing an internship. Internships in Israel last four years, and I have done two years so far in a place called Association for Children at Risk. It’s an organization that focuses on autistic children.
After having been on maternity leave for a year, I starting working at a mental health center in Jaffa.
In addition to this I work at a place called “Resilience Center”. There I am the coordinator of the early age program. Resilience Center is a place that does intervention programs in all kinds of institutions.
I am also an academic assistant at the IDC [Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya]. I took my BA in Psychology there. I did my Master’s degree in London at University College London.
That’s about me.
The work there is to give tools for self-help in a daily situations that helps us to balance our cognition, feelings and behavior. We write programs and implement them in schools, kindergartens, with adolescences, the third age and with autistic children.
My program is specifically for babies and toddlers, and we go into nurseries and work with the pedagogues and the parents. Our purpose is to, in general, try to increase the wellbeing with the tools, because we apply it on populations at risk.
Our programs are written within the context of the third wave of CBT [cognitive behavioral therapy]. It’s a method used in psychology. It’s been made to fit the population addressed.
I got to it by coincidence. I did my second degree in London, at the Anna Freud Center, and I wanted to do a doctorate in something having to do with mindfulness and children, but then at some point I was interviewed at the Resilience Center in the department working with babies, and it felt like the best thing to do. I work with amazing people there that are doing a really important work.
Today, while doing this, I also work in clinical psychology with children in Jaffa, which is something different.
I’ve only been there for two months, but I deal with a lot of cases involving children of refugees and immigrants, as well as with populations in Jaffa that have difficult socio-economic situations
There is also a newer population of Jaffa that is getting strong, but we also hear difficult stories, like about daycares with populations at risks.
Psychology Chose Me
The choice chose me. I always knew that I would work within the treatment of people, but then, while studying psychology, my heart got directed towards working with parents and children. I wish to work with families and couples more in the future.
Clinical psychology deals with pathologies, symptoms, difficult stories and psychological illnesses, and I’m still learning a lot from this, since I’ve been home for a year, so I feel like I have forgotten a lot of things, and in the last two years I worked with autistic children, which is a very specific population.
Now that I’m in Jaffa, I’m again exposed to the world of clinical psychology, and I really begin to have questions now. The work at Resilience Center however really balances me because it’s about prevention and not pathology. There is something really optimistic about it. And I really believe in the CBT treatment.
Psychology chose me. It was always that. It was never a question. I always knew that I wanted to work within treatments. In high school I remember myself already knowing that it would be that. The question was only which kinds of treatment.
Perhaps it has something to do with the family that I come from, but already as a girl I would listen to friends. I would try to help, so I naturally went to that place, not consciously. It just felt like it was what I was looking to do – to help. That’s what I know.
I lived one year in London, and my partner and I are fantasizing about moving out for a year or two with the Jewish Agency, after I finish my internship.
My partner is a pedagogue in a kindergarten, so he has the opportunity to be sent out as an educator. He can be a pedagogue in places within Jewish communities, and it would be for two years, under very good conditions – an amazing experience.
But home is here. I never really thought of totally moving away.
It’s difficult here though - in terms of security, the economy, politics etc. I don’t really read newspapers, and we don’t have a television at home, and I don’t deal with politics. I do deal with social issues.
It’s difficult to live here, for a young couple at the beginning of their path, also in relations to our surroundings and the threats there are. It means to live under a constant anxiety. We are not aware of it, because we are used to it.
I live in Tel Aviv, so I can’t say that I’m very [politically] active.
I am interested in Women Wage Peace, and there were periods where I was a lot more socially active on the level of demonstrations, but today I think I’m more occupied with the socio-psychological side.
I’m currently trying to organize a conference at the IDC about the social involvement of psychologist in the public services. There are so many groups with amazing projects related to activism such as psycho-drama, where they work around the conflict. Also, there is a cooperative in Florentin [neighborhood in Tel Aviv] that gives counseling help to a specific population for discounted prices.
There is also a psychologist that is very socially active, called Niv Agam, who has a specific project called “Social Magic” based on psychologists who, voluntarily, treat poor populations for free. It happened after there was a man, who had lit himself on fire [during one of the social protests in Tel Aviv in the summer 2011].
I grew up to be an anxious person, with anxiety attacks and the tendency to think about the worst of everything, and when there were less secure periods [in Israel], it would influence me a lot.
I don’t take buses, at all.
Thankfully I have never lost anyone close to my heart.
My behavior is centered on trying to prevent potential dangers, so I don’t take the bus. I always walk with a phone with someone on the line, when I walk alone in the dark. I have many safety behaviors.
I can’t say if it’s directly connected to the situation in Israel. It’s connected to all kinds of things. Not everyone in Israel grows up anxious, but the situation here makes me more prone to be stressed out in terms of these things in general. They are strong triggers for me.
I think that perhaps during periods, where there are sirens it’s different. The awareness is more directed towards it, and then everything that sounds like it feels like it’s this.
I feel better now since I got her [daughter]. I feel that since I was pregnant, I’ve been much more balanced. There is something with her that affects it [anxiety]. I was scared of it becoming more difficult.
I’m Scared For Him And For Us
Last time there was a siren here, my partner was in the army reserves, so I went to my parents’ house. Those periods are very anxious for me. When he’s there, I’m scared for him and for us.
He was away for the reserves for maybe two weeks. Now he stopped. This last year, when I was pregnant, he decided that it was enough. Now he will only join the reserves, if there is a war.
And, again, for us, it’s so trivial, but he is a dad. He is 36 years old. The fears are different. And he has already changed his opinions, since he became a soldier. First of all, he notified them [the army] of the fact that he wasn’t interested in holding a weapon anymore, and he doesn’t want to take part in military operations. He also doesn’t want to be in the army.
I served in the army as well. I served in the Nahal Brigade. We were a group of people from Tel Aviv, and we lived together on a kibbutz. Then we joined different army units, and then joined the same group again in Jerusalem. We were like a community.
I did a year of my service in a kibbutz, and then I was a soldier teacher in a school and in an after-school care. I lived with women soldiers in Mevasseret Zion, and at the end of my service I lived in Jerusalem, and we did different kinds of community activities. I basically only served on an actual army base during my army training.
My army service was very social. It was an amazing experience.
My partner and I joined a group called the “Love Revolution”. It was a group where we would do spiritual activism for lack of a better word.
We were a group of people from Tel Aviv, who would meet and learn together, and meditate together, and we would do all sorts of social activities on the streets, such as handing out free hugs, giving greeting cards to people in hospitals.
The Love Revolution group interested me, because it was a group based on free love, and it was a non-judgmental place of giving, research and reaching out for spirituality as well as involvement with the community.
It was a period during which I was vegan, and I would join many demonstrations. It did me a lot of good. I met many interesting people, and it filled me up. It changed me. It was very refreshing.
I’m not actively involved with Women Wage Peace. I’m a member of them, and they just recently invited me to a meeting with new women participants.
It still interests me, and if I could add more days to the week, I would do more.
It [Women Wage Peace] interested me, because that’s what I believe in. I want to live in peace.
I believe in peace, and I believe that everyone deserves to live in peace.
I joined a party once, in order to try and support Stav Shaffir, because it didn’t require something of me besides registering and voting. But after that, I had to remove my membership from the political group, because I started working in a public clinic. Those were their demands. If you work for the government, you can’t belong to a political group.
So I took a side, but I don’t do anything with it, or not enough, and I’m not involved with what’s going on. I would want, but I’m not inside.
There is this group within the psycho-drama group that really helps the Palestinians in places, where the settlers have destroyed their lands and where other things have happened that are unjust, and there [the work of the psycho-drama community] is amazing.
But when Talya and Arny [friends of interviewee] lived in Ecome [center for peace and sustainability, a meeting space for Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals] and we [interviewee and partner] went to visit them, I felt fear, and I didn’t feel comfortable.
At the end of the day, I fall into the fears and anxieties.
I have only talked with Palestinians who were at Ecome, and there weren’t many. There were mostly Israelis and a few Palestinians. I haven’t had any opportunities since [to meet Palestinians].
In terms of the Love Revolution, we had an evening, where they brought Palestinians – I don’t know from where – and they needed permits in order to come [to Israel]. We did a common evening in the theme of love, and there my eyes opened up.
I remember it as being an evening, where I began crying about everything that are easier to close one’s eyes to, of how they [Palestinians in the West Bank] are a minute away from us, and what they need to go through – the separation.
I support Combatants for Peace [Israeli-Palestinian NGO]. However there was another group, whose name I don’t remember, and we did a couple of activities with them in Jaffa. One of the events was called Medurat Hashevet [“The Tribe’s Bonfire”]. It was a sort of Arab-Jewish event. I would want to be more involved in similar activities.
Bubble / Guilty
It’s my fears that prevent me from going to these places though, and then it’s also life that prevents it. I’m in my bubble.
It’s interesting what is happening, because I hear what I’m saying, and I’m thinking to myself: So go, do! What’s this hypocrisy of saying yes but not doing anything? However, in reality a lot of people around me are in this same place. Life gets in the way.
I believe in it. I believe that this is the way, to peace. I really believe that the occupation is a bad thing. It’s something nice to say, but I don’t know what to do with it in fact, because on both sides there are extremists – on our side and on theirs. And there is a fear also of if everything was open, what would happen then? Then other fears are added, such as the closeness of ISIS here.
I talk about something that I would like to do, but I don’t. I feel guilty, but it also brings up something new. Maybe it will make me more active.
I also think about children, and what world I’m bringing children into, and where they grow up, and it’s easier to close your eyes, like what everyone is doing, because people are used to it, but when I look at the world, although we are more humane today, it’s still a crazy world and a scary world, and there are these kinds of questions – of what kind of world we are bringing our children into and what will happen to them. It’s scary.
It won’t prevent me from getting more children, but these are questions that I have.
I feel responsible, and I also think, one wants to be a better person in order to teach our children this, and one wants to help him/her to go into a better world, and it’s very difficult for the young people today to do this, when they are preoccupied with surviving and working and earning money and in being together. Not many have the privilege to be socially active in the way that they want, and to improve the world and to change it. We all do it in our own small worlds in small ways, such as my work with children and families. I work in a profession that gives and improves things but not on the socio-political level.
But I still talk and I don’t do. I do work with Arabs, and the work that I do in Jaffa is very nice, and that’s why I’m happy that I got there, but when I talk about the conflict and perhaps mostly about the occupation, I’m talking but not doing anything, and it’s very comfortable to sit in Tel Aviv and to talk about what I would like to do.
In my heart I’m there, but I guess it’s not so urgent [for me], since I don’t do anything.
In general, we [partner and interviewee] both know that we want to move out of Tel Aviv. In terms of raising a family we want to live in a moshav [Israeli community-village] or kibbutz or something more community-centered.
I’m Tel Avivit [someone from Tel Aviv, female]. I like the city. My parents are here, but we both want to live in something more community-like, with friends. We are both like this, people-persons, and we fantasize about living with a group, not a kibbutz but with other people. That’s what we believe in.
My family are politically of the center-left. They watch television and read the newspapers and they like to talk about it [politics] at Friday dinners. They are very much there, although none of them are [politically] active.
My mother was active in terms of the social movement, but not in relations to the conflict.
I think that they believe in peace, but I don’t know specifically what their stand on the occupation is. They are very preoccupied with the impossible life here, socially and economically.
I don’t participate [in the discussions], because it’s politics. They, on the other hand, kind of live it, because they see things in the television, but none of them are involved in anything.
It provokes me, in general, to know that they sit and watch television, as if it represents them being active. I think they see themselves as involved, because they see things and talk, and the fact that I’m disconnected, and the fact that I don’t hear the news frustrates them. They say: “How can one live here without having an opinion?”
I’m interested. It’s not that I do more than them. I just don’t take credit for myself for things that I don’t deserve.
Interview conducted on August 30, 2017