When I left religion, I lost the reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Yeshiva Aish Hatorah, also known as Aish, is a cult educatio... More had the only reason, and I left it behind. No longer was I doing God’s work. No longer was I saving the Jewish people, keeping the world afloat with every word of Torah I spoke.
Another day, another pointless existence.
There was no point in staying in Israel. So I left. There was no point in staying alive, but I did, because I had responsibilities towards others. But responsibility does not equal meaning.
And so it went, on and on, day after day. I processed trauma, I dealt with shit. Everything still pointless.
I used to find meaning in helping others, but it was harder to do that now. Volunteering opportunities are surprisingly menial – want to drive people to the hospital? Want to take a random kid to a park every week? That wasn’t my jam.
After four years, I finally found enough strength to start doing hypnotherapy again. I had trained in it while still relgious, and it was deeply intertwined with God. I had to extract God from the core hypnotic techniques, and I had to find the strength to be there for other people when my own energetic world was flimsy at best.
For the longest time, I had nothing left over to give, the ultimate paradox when you think that there is nothing more energizing to me than helping others. I couldn’t get the cycle started.
I learned to stare pointlessness in the face. To understand that meaning could be subjective, and did not need to involve other people or saving the world. In therapy, I found that I derive meaning from learning new things. From being creative for its own sake. Who knew.
And then one day, it hit me. After nine months of micro dosing to help counteract my anxiety. After three years of therapy to deal with complex trauma. After five doses of MDMA, monthly mushroom trips, and an Ayahuasca retreat, each laden with more shit than I could possibly have fathomed.
It combined so many of talents and passions – technology, mental health, marketing, generosity. Everything is meaningless and we’re all gonna die, but this is what I want to do while I’m still alive.
Meaning from the inside out. Who would have thought?
And for the first time, it lasted. Aligned with who I am, it stuck around, instead of fleeing into the night like almost anything else I’ve ever gotten excited about. Six months later, and it’s still here.
A reason to live. A cause I can get behind. Something where, if I stop to feel it, I can actually appreciate the process of where I have come and where I still want to go.
I did not find meaning.
Meaning found me.