Tuesday, September 28, 2004


I was speaking to a good friend, a short while ago, about relationships. She is in the process of a very painful break up and break off of an engagement, and six year relationship. Her story is not unlike others I’ve heard throughout the years. The details of this specific relationship aren’t particularly relevant, however, one major aspect sticks out to me the most.

Throughout their long history as a couple, one thing remained pretty constant between them. They may have struggled together. They may have doubted. They may have made wrong turns, but when it came to the core of who they were, they remained honest with one another. I know that my friend would not have stayed in the relationship if she doubted the level of honesty. Yet in the end, that is what crumbled first. Which brings me to my moment of pondering and questioning.

How is it, that relationships can begin and continue with complete honesty among individuals, but when it nears an ending, the honesty stops? In these situations, I am always amazed how people rationalize why honesty is not important anymore. In general, I wonder how lying suddenly becomes more important, and what this sudden change is a result of. In all, I just feel deeply sorry for the people involved, knowing that a heart really does break at such moments.

I guess what I’m saying in an indirect way, is that I value honesty over any other version of the truth. And I know that I can only control my own actions and words, and so I strive to be the most honest person I can be. However, there is a part of me that would like to empower (at the very least) people to be honest with me (and others). And maybe I’ve learned the hard way, but the pain involved in a lack of honesty is harder for me, than facing the truth.

Sure, I’ve been played for a fool, and believed all there was to believe in another person. I’ve trusted people completely, and was stunned when I found out I had been “had.” Yet, there has been no point that I would change any of it. And I am not a martyr. I am just a girl who believes in the power of forgiveness.

My friend struggles now with how to pick up and live life a different way. She struggles how to move on and hopefully love again. But the real blow for her is to believe in her heart again, because she never stopped being honest with herself or her partner.


Recently I’ve come across a bit of information about my heritage that has caused me to think a great deal. A few weeks ago I found out that by way of ancestry, I am a Polish Jew. I always knew I was Polish, but the Jewish part is news to me. Apparently, someone from my family, came from Poland before the German occupation. This person settled in the mid-west and later got married. However, at the time, it wasn’t acceptable to be Jewish, and thus, that part of one’s identity was hidden. It was hidden so much in my family that it was unacceptable to talk about and that is why I never knew until just recently. What is even more interesting, is that this person hid their identity so well, that they built a church and became a founding member, without ever being Catholic. I wonder how their life would have been different if identity wasn’t hidden.

Well for starters, this person escaped death. Probability was not on the side of Polish Jews at the time of the German occupation. In the states, this person could conduct life without the Jewish label, and thus, maneuver around the path of discrimination. Yet, this person also missed the opportunity to express their faith and traditions, the way culture had previously dictated.

In my life, I can’t help wonder what life would have been like if I knew I was a Polish Jew in conjunction with and Irish / English Catholic. I wonder what it would have been like to reconcile the two religious and cultural traditions at an early age. Even today, I can’t help but wonder, “am I a Jew now?”

What does it mean to be Jewish? Can one be Jewish in terms of culture and traditions, and not in terms of faith? How does one reconcile the two? The fact is, I know that many are challenged with these questions, and I am not alone. However, it is my personal priority of sorts to make sense of all this, because in a way, I feel like I owe it to my family member who probably struggled a great deal. I know what it’s like to hide a part of yourself to remain undetected through the paths of a discriminatory society. However, at this stage of my life, I do not feel that hiding any part of my identity (Jewish or otherwise) would be a danger to my life. And so maybe, it is my job to investigate and BE!