Letting It All Out

There has been a lot on my shoulders lately and I thought this would be a good time to get something off my chest. About little over three months ago I wrote a post “Maybe it is Time to Quit”, which was a reaction too something that happened to me the day before. So, I feel that I need to tell my story and maybe get past it.

Well, it was the day before Rash Hashanah. I actually was on pin and needs that day because my Rabbi invited me to the Rash Hashanah service on Friday night and I wanted to go badly. Unfortunately, I was more nervous about the day after.

Anyway, I was at work and I got a call from my wife. She was extremely mad at me and told me that I need to call an FBI agent (from the Anti-Terrorist Task Force no less) immediately. I called the very polite FBI agent and cleared up the misunderstanding in about 5 minutes.

I thought it would be cool for my blog to post some pictures of the local synagogue in Bloomington IL, while I was visiting. My wife was on work related business and my son and I set out to get a photo of the synagogue. It was about lunch time when I arrived and the Temple secretary was just leaving. I walked up to her and told her my intentions and she seemed fine with it, even offered to let me take pictures of their court yard. Unfortunately, I was in a bit of a rush because I needed to get my wife some lunch and my son had fallen asleep in the car. So, I might have come off as a tad suspicious in my activates.  Plus, I did not know what to say, so I kind of fumbled my words a little too much.

It seems that the secretary must have recorded the license plate number when she left and my wife said the FBI agent had photos of me taking the pictures. I guess the worst part of this is that my wife was questions by the FBI agent with no knowledge of me being there.

Of course, when I got home, my wife was not happy with me and kept asking me why I hang around with these people, when it seems obvious to her that they do not want me around. She pretty much told me to knock it off. As I always seem too do, I coward and retreated to my normal position of, “Yes dear.”

As I look back, it does seem a tad bone headed of me to have done this in the first place. I totally forgot that synagogues are in constant threat of terrorism and it probably was not a good idea to visit a synagogue this way. Yeah, I learned that first hand.

I think this now brings me to the really juicy stuff, I am still feeling resentment after three months. I am still upset that the secretary told the FBI agent that I was impersonating a Jew, which I a pretty sure that I told her I was interested in conversion and was not Jewish.  The FBI agent question me on why I said that I am apart of the Springfield community and I told him that I attend the Temple is in Springfield and that is why I said it. Personally, I suspect that even if I would have said everything right, the secretary would have still taken everything out of context anyway, because I was a suspect in her eyes.

What amazes me the most is that two bad actions (the secretary and mine) seemed to fall on my shoulders and I am the one who paid dearly. She can go on with her life like nothing every happened, because nothing really happened to her. She reported suspicious activity to the FBI, like she was trained to do, and went on with her life. I guess it is just past my understanding why I get to harbor most of pain that comes from the consciences of my actions, when the other party does not have to pay for the consciences of their actions?

Yes, it is so easy to blame someone else than myself. Trust me, I have been pretty hard on myself and extremely angry at my actions. I will continue to make this all my fault as I try to reconcile my resentment towards the secretary. It does seem though, three months is still not enough. I guess I need to forgive and move on, but it seems impossible at the moment. I am embarrassed about being accused and investigated for terrorist activity. It angers me to the point of tears that the secretary has no idea how much pain she caused me.

Sadly, this has been my crappy life and why I have been running away from it. I literally hate myself for feeling this way.

Thanks for reading this…


6 responses to “Letting It All Out

  1. James,

    Your mistake in this case was just that–a mistake. The secretary could have chosen not to report your presence there, but then–if you had been a real terrorist–could have paid with others’ lives if she had neglected to do what she saw as her duty. She was in an awkward position and in the end, made a decision that could make her relationship with you awkward (now and in the future) but would at least cover her backside.

    As for you, it’s understandable that you would not have realized how hyper-vigilant Jews are, especially these days. Your action was one of innocent intent, and you have to forgive yourself for having made that mistake. You feel awkward and embarrassed, but we all do things that make us feel that way, and yes–sometimes for months on end.

    I think you’ve looked at this incident from all angles, and can see that everyone did what they thought best. The fact that the bulk of the discomfort fell on you was just the luck of the draw. As you grow and find your path, perhaps someday you’ll find yourself a regularly-attending member of that shul, and all this will be a distant memory. Let it start to fade.

  2. Firstly, I am glad to see you back and blogging – long may it continue!

    Secondly, I am sorry you had such a rough time. It was a bit of a shock to me when security was stepped up at our synagogue during the summer last year, as a result of certain events in the Middle East, but I quickly acclimatised to it.

    As Shimshonit wrote, it was just an honest mistake on your part, compounded by the fact that your wife was put in an awkward position because she didn’t know your exact whereabouts – so not only were you questioned by the FBI, you were also questioned by your wife, who was understandalby upset.

    I find that when things upset me, I write my feelings down by hand, don’t self-edit, don’t try to make it neat or legible, just let everything out. Then I shred what I’ve written and it truly helps get rid of the issue. It might work for you.

    You did nothing fundamentally wrong, it was just one of those days where the domino effect takes over!

    • Thanks Rahel

      I think you are right, it is helpful for me to write my frustrations down, instead of letting it rattle around in my head. It seems that I can not come to grips with it that way. However, I had a pretty bad week, last week. I am still debating if it was wise to post this. But if I look on the bright side, I did have two comments that made me feel better about the situation.

  3. What an experience! As a non-Jew, but someone who likes architecture and looking at buildings, I would have probably made the same mistake you did. I tend to think more about the good in the world, than the bad and it’s implications.

    Life’s little adventures!

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