This lack of clarity was deeply disturbing. I was so embarrassed and confused. I didn't want to walk into the shul. How could I possibly present myself if I don't know who I am presenting to them? I knew that it was normal for people to expect consistency. Here I was, the epitome of inconsistency.I had not the faintest idea who I was. I know nothing about me. How could I introduce myself to you if I know nothing about me? Who am I showing to you? I realized then, in the most disturbing of ways, that there is a natural check list that happens at every introduction. The only reason why I feel comfortable introducing myself to you because I have an idea of who I am, and I know, what I stand for, I know what is important to you and I know what you stand for and therefore I feel comfortable, putting out my hand to you.
At this juncture, there was nothing that I knew about myself. There was nothing that I could tell you for sure that was me. There was nothing about me that I knew. I was an empty and confused person. All of what I could have sworn was part of me, had just been ripped out of my consciousness against my will. I had known exactly who I was until then. I was an eved hashem (sevant of god) that was all of who I was. I knew what my days would look like. I knew what my values were. I knew what I stood for. I knew what my life would be like. I knew what was important. I knew hat I had to do to succeed. I had it all figured out. There was no doubt as to who I was, what was important to me and what I'd be doing for the rest of my life.
Now, I was shattered. I knew enough to know that, at my age, it was expected that a man would have a little bit of sense of who he was. How could I possibly look at any human in the face. I was just a huge pile of indecision, confusion and disorientation. There was no me, in me. I had never pondered who I was. I had never faced or thought about the part of me that has an opinion that likes to think about things. I had never gotten to know the chooser in me. There was no personality. I was entirely cut off from anything that represented a human being who has any sort of relationship with who he is. This all gave me a lot of shame. The shame, of course, was compounded by the confusion that, (at that time) I couldn't even put words to my anger and disappointment.
All of these words that I speak today were trapped in knots of anger and confusion. I was simply in a daze. Lost beyond lost. Ashamed of all that had happened. Scared by the confusion of not knowing. Had this ever happened to anyone else? What will be with me? Will things ever be OK? Can they?
The suffering of this period can only be imagined by those who have been there. If you have, you know exactly what I am talking about.
So yes, for now, I still waited away from the door of the shul, trying to figure out, how I wanted to present myself, knowing that this first meeting would send a message to the congregation of this new community as to what I was about. This first meeting could decide everything. I had to do this right, so, as I had done when encountering any decision, during the 20 years that had passed, I waited.