10 - Habits I Wouldn’t Wish On Anyone

Hello everyone, I hope you’re having a good week! I’m afraid the situation isn’t great here in Israel, anyone familiar with life in here knows the unfortunate realities of security, alarms, running to shelter and sending out “are you okay?” texts. Today’s post is also for those who live here and know these aspects of life but it’s mostly for those who don’t, friends from around the world who would like to understand what’s going on and how our lives look during wartime. It’s important to me to share how much this hurts us all and our quality of life, and talk about the things I do as a matter of course, out of instinct, which you may not have thought of as a potential influence of war. Today I will tell you about habits many of us pick up quickly as the war starts and take years to unlearn afterwards. This is a picture of traumatic life as experienced by thousands of people in the small state of Israel, even here in Tel Aviv. If you can relate or if you’re learned something new I’d be happy to hear all about it on my Facebook page, I’m always happy to hear your thoughts and to feel a sense of community. And now here are ten habits I wouldn’t wish on anyone, which I unfortunately partake in (not always by choice) daily.

10 - הרגלים שלא הייתי מאחלת לאיש 10 - Habits I wouldn't wish on anyone

1 – Being Tense 24/7 – The best way to describe this habit is being aware of any little noise around you. Your body tenses up at the tiniest sound – a motorbike passing by, the exhaust of a car, the creak of a door, wind whistling through a window, music. They all sound like an alarm or an explosion at first and they make your heart race and pump adrenaline through your system. Your body is alert, tense, on the lookout in case this time it’s an alarm. Once in a while it really is an alarm but most of the time it’s over-preparedness and adrenaline shakes.

2 – Lack of Sleep – My body is constantly in a state of tension and thoughts race, reaching into the realm of the horrors I’ve seen on the news and on social media over the past few days. My thoughts race and I put myself in the victims’ place as if to prepare myself for a similar hypothetical situation, or, even worse, bad news about the people I know and love. I’m sure I hear sounds, maybe it’s someone breaking in, breaking into a space in which I very recently felt so safe. What will I do if that’s what’s happening right now and they’re about to do what they did to the people of Kfar Aza? The thoughts won’t let up, it’s a closed loop, and well…there is no way to prepare for such horrors. 

3 – Searching For a Shelter – Whenever I’m out of the house walking or driving I have a “tab” open in my head constantly “taking note” of places to hide during a siren, “there’s a shelter here”, “this is a good place to lay because there’s a concrete wall”, and so on…

4 – Choice of Clothes – One of the important things in wartime is your choice of clothes – and no, I’m not talking about fashion. Although that is something that’s nice to consider. I’m talking about practical wear chosen through criteria like cane I run in this, can I lie down on the ground or flee for my life and hide should the need arise, something that doesn’t draw too much attention, where my underwear can’t be seen when I’m on the ground or if I’m running or if I’m caught. Something sporty, unrestrictive and comfy, preferably something long so I don’t get scrapes from the road.

5 – Driving Everyone – Anyone who’s lived in Israel should be familiar with the fear that comes with taking buses during a rise in terror attacks. In the past, many times, buses were a serious target, terrorists would burn, shoot, and blow them up. This not very distant but very painful past has left me with a ton of anxiety when it comes to the people I love, so I choose to drive them to their destinations in order to make sure they get there safely. For the past two weeks I have been getting up at 5:15 after maybe two hours of sleep and it’s not an easy thing to do, but it is important to me.

6 – Planning Every Move Out of the House Carefully Leaving the house requires a lot of thought and planning, who’s coming (because I’m not as comfortable being alone on the road or the streets during an emergency or an alarm), what do I need with me when I’m out, my phone? Water? Keys? Medicine? How do I get to my destination as quickly as possible, always making sure I know where the nearest shelter is…leaving the house means constantly scanning ahead to see there’s nothing suspicious or dangerous around, very “See it, say it, sorted” stuff.

7 – A Minor Identity Crisis – Over the past few days I’ve been having an unpleasant recurring feeling, a fear I know mostly from travelling abroad alone, a feeling of “I’m hated”. I feel like because of the place I was born and the family I was born into, a Jewish family in the state of Israel, I have to be afraid of pure burning hatred. I have this awful feeling that anywhere I’ll be someone will see my existence as a “legitimate” opportunity for violence and hate. I’m afraid of feeling unsafe and unwanted, both in and out of my country. It’s terrible to feel hated for such a basic part of my identity, one that I couldn’t change if I wanted to.

8 – Taking Stock/Doing Inventory – The Homefront Command’s guideline for wartime is to make sure your shelter holds enough food and water for all occupants for 3 days. Since the number of occupants can change and since we snack and drink water during the sirens, this is something that has to be maintained. Every few days I make sure there’s enough food and water in the shelter, and at home for regular use. Supermarkets are fairly empty and are mostly out of water bottles, so stock/inventory is a very real and legitimate concern.

9 – Taking My Meds Everywhere – One of the first things I did when war broke out was put my meds in my bag, taking them with me all the time. I know they improve my quality of life and help me function in normal times, and it was important to me to prepare myself for whatever may be with my best foot forward. If I’m stuck in a shelter in poor mental or physical shape I’d rather it be a bit more tolerable, which is where the meds come in.

10 – Acting Fast During an Alarm – When a siren sounds the body enters a state of action. The body jumps into action and the mind follows, and on my way to the shelter I try to get my priorities straight, figure out what to take with me, what to save. I think about who else is in the house, gotta make sure everyone hears the alarm and is on their way to the shelter – pets, family, friends. Of course there’s also making sure everyone who isn’t in your immediate vicinity is okay and has entered their shelter. Basically it’s a whole lot of pressure, lots to do and tons of adrenaline leading to tons of fatigue.

Now that I’ve listed my new habits, I’d like to hear from you! How are you feeling these awful days? Sending my hugs, worried about you and hoping to hear from you all about how you’re dealing. I’m curious if you’ve adopted any of the habits I’ve listed for yourselves. And to those of you who don’t live in Israel, I’d like to know what if anything from this list surprised you. How are you processing what’s been happening in Israel these past few days? Sending my love and waiting to hear from you on my Facebook page! Stay strong!
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