The Hidden Pain
Three years ago, Yom Hazikaron took on a whole new meaning for me. That’s not to say that the day wasn’t meaningful beforehand. But since three years ago, it just all hit home that much more.
Three years ago, I started dating a guy named “Doron,” who had been in an elite unit in the army. We had started dating a few years after צוק איתן, where he served on the front lines in Gaza. I didn’t know Doron then, but that summer stayed with him and continues to remain with him every single day. Every hour. Every minute. Every second. Every breath. Every heartbeat.
I’m not here to tell you a glorious dating story of how two people fell in love. No, I’m here to tell the story that so often goes untold.
During צוק איתן Doron lost friends from his unit right before his eyes. He was never able to share with me what happened during his time in Gaza, so I don’t know the details. But what I do know is that the part of Doron that went into Gaza that summer never left. The Doron after Gaza was not the same Doron as before Gaza. It’s like part of him is still there deep down under the rubble and dust. Buried away with no one knowing it’s still there.
On the outside, Doron looked exactly the same. To everyone around him, Doron was still Doron and they were just glad to have him back in one piece.
But Doron didn’t actually come back in one piece. Maybe physically, Thank G-d. But internally he has been struggling. He learned to fake a smile, fake a laugh, and fit in with his family and friends.
I never knew the whole Doron. I only knew the Doron who had broken part of his heart. Part of himself. He was experiencing PTSD from the war. But he put on a show for everyone — and he was damn good at it. He learned to master the skills of covering up so much pain, grievance, guilt, anxiety, depression, sadness, despair, and loss– for years.
After what were very emotional and broken-hearted conversations, Doron broke up with me. My world completely crashed like never before.
I’m writing this because so much of the world hides it. So much of the world turns a blind eye.
I don’t know what Doron saw that summer. But I can tell you that it made its mark. Its scar. It has been almost six years and yet Doron still struggles day-to-day.
Last week, we met up for the first time since our breakup. I was so proud of Doron and so proud to see how far he had come since we were together. But he still struggles with PTSD and anxiety every single day, only now he’s become aware of it and knows that it’s not his fault.
On Yom Hazikaron we remember those who are gone. We also think about the pain felt by those who are, thank God, still with us. Yom Hazikaron is the hardest day of the year for so many.
Since we can’t hug one another this year, at least we can reach out to each other whether it means calling a friend who lost a relative or just listening to a family’s story over Zoom of pain and bravery. Or even if it’s just watching a virtual tekes.
This year we can spread more love, more acceptance, and more understanding.