I hardly knew where the thought came from. I was lying in bed, so weak I could not move, too tired to contemplate getting up. But it’s better to say brachos lying down then not to say them at all.
It came out as a mumble, words that the tongue knew from childhood, mumbling from my mouth without my knowledge.
And then – She’asani kirtzono. I heard the words coming out of my mouth. They tickled my brain and touched my mind. Baruch ata Hashem Elokeinu melech ha’olam, she’asani kirtzono.
I’m sitting with my sister in the car, driving down the highway. The window is open, and her hair streams out behind her, wild and carefree. These are happy moments, moments when we let go, when we lose our shared pain, and share the thoughts that only our minds can know.
Mental illness runs in the family.
We are sisters, with our own brand of closeness. I understand her mind and she understands mine.
She turns the radio down, closes the window, and runs her left hand through her hair as her right smoothly grips the wheel. She speaks in a relaxed, speculative voice in the sudden quiet.
“You know… when I say she’asani kirtzono, it means to me- that no matter what my mind is, no matter what my struggles are- I have to thank Hashem for making me just that way – however I am; it’s a statement that He made me exactly according to His will.”
I stare at my big sister. Something resonates within me, drops into my stomach, carries a sense of… peace… through my being. To thank You, Hashem, our God, for creating me… according to Your will.
There is a tang in the air between us, an agony shared and known to both, that no one else might ever know as well. To know that your own mind can be your worst enemy, and to have to struggle with it… every day. Anxiety. Depression. Thoughts that you think are yours but come from the Demon within. A life perpetually confusing, challenging, and…painful, oh so painful.
But here, in the car, we sit in this shared silence, and we know, for the moment…
He has created me according to His will.
Lying on my pillow, the thought flashes through me-
It seems almost strange, it was so long ago – but in another lifetime, many years ago, these words bothered me. Why does a man thank God for the privilege of his extra mitzvos and we are left to humbly accept; “for He made me according to His will”…? It seemed so unfair… the whole thing felt so unfair!
That was a different lifetime.
In this lifetime, philosophical questions were a thing of the past, existential angst a joke, a laugh. Who had a head for philosophy? Who had a head for having a head? It was all I could do to hold onto myself, to keep myself alive, to struggle through each day and retain my identity. I would have traded all the questions and all the answers for one simple day of….
Peace of mind.
When Daniella told me what the words meant to her, that’s all it was.
No baggage, no fear of connotations of inferiority, no nagging sense of injustice. Years of pain and oblivion had wiped the slate free of…anything. Words were simply words. And now they meant…
We sat there in the car, sharing in the silence, as only sisters like us could.
The lips had ceased their mumbling. I lay immobile, head pressed into the pillow, letting the words trickle through my mind again.
Blessed… are You, Hashem… our God, King of the world… for creating me according to His will.
I lay there on the pillow, no strength to move, and felt the remembrance of meaning touch my soul. It had been so many years since I had thought…anything. My mind was gone, and my heart was gone, and it felt to me that even my soul was gone. But the words touched me, somewhere, a tingle of a thought once thought, a shared moment of peace.
For He has made me… according to His will.
This- this useless mind, this sick brain, the terrible monster within me that makes each day inside myself a living hell-
I lay there on the pillow, and I cried, and I pushed my face into the softness to stop the tears, for it was Shabbos, and I should not cry…
And I felt a surge of pity for all the men trapped within their own minds, for they cannot say “she’asani kirtzono”…
But I, I know, for I can say; I am all, completely – every sick, useless part of me, according to His will…