Tova Mirvis, the author of A Book of Separation: A Memoir, made the choice to both divorce and to leave her orthodox faith and her community.
Raised in an orthodox Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee she grew up feeling like there was a set path for her; one that her family was part of and one that was always expected would be her own. She knew from a young age that to stay inside a religious community meant she’d always have this sense of community and identity of who she was supposed to be in the world. Trying very hard to be that person, she married at a young age, had children, and was part of a very religious community where every choice was mapped out for her.
Yet, she had a quiet whisper of doubt for many years — Is this what you really believe? Is this who you really are?
Afraid of what might happen if she let herself answer those hard questions, and how she’d change, she didn’t.
Until she did.
She experienced a growing awareness that who she was on the outside didn’t match who she was on the inside and it became impossible for her to navigate the feeling that she was two separate people. She wasn’t living a life she believed and it was inconsistent with who she thought she was. And so, she made a change to live differently than she had before.
During our conversation she discusses how whenever one of us in a family dynamic changes, it changes everyone around us. She couldn’t stay a person who wasn’t going to think about hard questions and pretend so she could belong.
Part of making a change is accepting that pain and responsibility, and feeling the sadness and sometimes the guilt that goes along with knowing that you’re the one who changed something.
Would we ever want our children to not change and to feel like they are incapable of change?
Choosing to change affects those around us, but is that a bad thing?
Listen to Tova’s wisdom about change, identity and belonging. The common thread amongst those who’ve reached out to her, from many religious backgrounds and communities, is they weren’t living the life they felt they were meant to.
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