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Left Out



Jewish scouts uniform
Jewish scouts uniform

"Left out": Without the French-style round flat-topped cap or with a beret of the wrong colour, the troop omits me.

 

I've been plagued all my life by the perception of being excluded, of detachment from the body of boys and girls. Paranoid thoughts arose from this sensitivity and interfered with my interactions with my friends. I'm forever struggling to reject that emotion.  

 

This headdress is distinctive. Just any old headgear won't do; it's part of the Hashtilim's distinguishing clothing, the youngest section of Jewish Boy Scouts, known as Habonim, the builders.

 

Everyone who belongs wears the same apparel, including the things worn by artists in Montmartre, symbolizing inclusion in the crowd and its unique character. 

 

My mother, a source of comfort and anger, said, "What difference does it make what hue the beret is? Don't make a nuisance of yourself; the essential thing is to cover your head. Here, take this." She ranted at me, her irritation mirroring my own, and threw an old shawl of hers at me.

 

After I pleaded with her, she relented, purchased the headdress of the correct complexion, and calm returned to my nervous soul.

 

Sunday came, and my hysteria reached a peak; My mother and the woman servant searched for the official neckerchief, a leather scout belt, or some other part of the uniform. 

 

Rummaging through drawers, scattering clothes in every direction, shouting in frustration at my mother and the servants, I cried, "You've made me late for the gathering".

 

The members arranged themselves in a semicircle, all donning the same khaki shirt and dark green and white scarf tied around their necks. "An outsider in such a crowd would experience discomfort".

 

Waiting for Hanna, our youth leader, a pretty girl, to start the activities, the other youngsters chattered away like birds on a tree. Silently yearning to join in on the conversation as they shared the details of their lives, I searched for something to contribute that would make me a part of their group. Happy to be counted among them but irritated to feel different from my friends.

To this day, the thought that nobody wants to share experiences with me impinges on my life.

 

My wife spoke to her friend Irena several times a day for a long time. She described what she cooked, what foods or medicines she bought, and why, and the lady of my house recounted stories about her granddaughter.

 

I listen to these conversations. Granny drives and talks. I'm a silent passenger in the car, on an outing or on our way to make some purchases at the local supermarket.

 

I felt like an outsider, watching from the sidelines while everyone laughed and talked.

 

I burst into tears, which became a benchmark of my abnormality. I couldn't help but feel they excluded me and didn't want me to be a part of their world.

 

People passed around accounts of events in their lives to one another.

 

Nobody told me anything, and I can never think of occurrences I wanted to talk to others about.

 

I was puzzled. I was trying to understand why I was always solitary, didn't have interesting anecdotes to share, or was separate from everyone else.

 

This fear mystifies me. The fact that I am excluded is embedded in me.

 

Today, determined not to accept this situation, I say, "It's my imagination." I reject the image of my youth that people overlooked me.

 

Some kids are aware of the reason why they are outsiders; they might have parents in poor circumstances who can't afford the price of a uniform. They may grow up envious of affluent contemporaries, who don't associate with them, but don't fear it.

 

I always asked, "Are there other people who have the same emotions as me?" I was confused because I didn't have a simple answer, like the offspring of mothers and fathers in financial difficulties.

 

I even envied them, secure knowing their position in society and the reason why. 

The solution to my confusion was to fantasize that I was born into a poor family and adopted by my parents.

 

Here is an example of my phobia of being left out. The teacher calls out the children to make a lineup for a spelling bee.

 

Miss Henderson placed each pupil in a squad, and the competition was about to begin when I would have to raise my hand and say, "Miss, which team am I in?"

 

A curious look at the class register was followed by: "Oh, it looks like I missed you out. Go and join one of the sides."

 

That statement disturbed me, and this kind of incident often recurred. " Did my peers make the same mistake, was I the only one who thought like this?"

 

This sort of accident happens in the playground with other friends.

 

The kids had decided to play football; two leaders or good players each chose a band from among us, waiting to be selected.

 

I was always left out and told to join whatever faction suited me. Nobody wanted me on his side. I concluded that this was because of my weakness at kicking the ball or running, and my endeavors wouldn't make a difference in the result.

 

The situation saddened me and spoiled my life. I hesitated to try and succeed; the certainty of failure dashed my hopes of success, making attempts to succeed mediocre and leading to nothing.

 

Disappointment and depression followed in the wake of dreams that someone would need me and call.

 

I've given up grieving when my buddies left me out. I realised that it didn't matter

if the fellows prevented me from joining them.

 

Not caring whether or not I was asked to participate was a useful sentiment.

 

Unhappiness interfered with all my schemes. I was mistaken to lose hope when guys excluded me from an activity.

 

Remorse makes one look at the world paranoically, searching for delusional signs that people were ousting me from assignments.

 

Feelings of despair made me weep. The whole household was sick and tired of hearing me moaning. They chased me into my room to stop my bawling.

 

How to treat me to prevent my howls puzzled my parents. No matter what they did, I broke out in sobs.

 

The cause of my depression is only now evident, after analysing my behaviour, did I realise that the feeling of being left out caused it.

 

I've taught myself to resist this suspicion as imaginary.

 

My spirit was in a constant battle with itself. On the one hand, it agonised that people left me out; on the other, it argued, "No, that is irrational. My chums will not leave me out."

 

People have no reason to exclude me; "My imagination is playing tricks on me". the conviction enters my mind.

 

The feeling of being left out may have originated with my father's strange attitude.

 

One time, I was amazed to hear from one of my girlfriends what he had said to her: "Leon will always be a poor man."

 

Boy, did that make me feel terrible? His ambition for me to be penniless was just another discouraging expectation of his.

 

Seeing the low grades on my school report, he pronounced the demoralizing statement, "That's a good mark for you."

 

I expected him to say something encouraging like, "I'm certain you'll do better next time."

 

The two of us had different opinions about my intellectual capabilities. Dad thought that I was dumb, I disagreed.

 

He meant to have pity on me, but his words sowed doubt about my intelligence and revealed that he harboured somewhat negative thoughts about me. As a result, I was forever questioning myself:  "Am I intelligent or rather stupid?" "Can I be considered good-looking, or do I fall into the category of the ugly?" "Do I take responsibility for my actions, or am I just a waster?"

 

Despite my best efforts to make sense of it all, I found myself at a loss for answers. The uncertainty made me uneasy as I struggled to understand my identity.

 

The townsfolk knew Dad as someone who encouraged people to work hard and get ahead. He even helped many people by lending them money. His behaviour towards me was the opposite. I thought he shunned me.

 

I acquired the irrational suspicion that people hide things about me. Secrets surround me like a wall.

 

Another phobia that I attributed to these childhood events, which I had given up long ago, is that every figure in authority could read my mind and discover secret thoughts.

 

The feeling of rejection ruins one's life and presents obstacles in day-to-day living.

 

For example, I respond to problems with the knowledge I have gained from experience. Another person steps in, nagging that their plan is more effective.

This is natural and goes almost unnoticed. I, however, regard objections with disproportionate severity.

 

Trying to convince my opponent of the right way leads to confrontation.

 

Persuading them to accept my way as correct becomes a big challenge. I sometimes shout and gesticulate. I am then accused of being dictatorial and get pushed out of the way. There will always be a wise guy who shouts, "You're crazy."

 

I can't assert myself without fearing opposition. When others reject my way of doing things, I suspect their antagonism is personal. I say, "The team members are making that suggestion to undermine my authority," rather than saying, "Yes, that is a good idea."

 

My fear of creating enemies led me to become meek and easy to manipulate. I lost the power required to promote my program.

My hesitation to proceed with my ideas doesn't stem from uncertainty about their correctness; I'm sure they are correct, but I'm scared of the accusation that I'm crazy.

 

In my work as a guide, I'm faced with the need to decide which road to take to a particular place, which facts to emphasise when describing a historical site, and the site's religious, historical, and political aspects daily.

 

There will be "Mr. Know-It-All" with a different opinion from mine; the coach driver, the tour host, or the priest accompanying the group. I must choose where and when to stop for meals and how long.

 

When tourists question my decisions and try to overrule them, I lose control, and some people criticise me for not knowing my job. I dare not ask for assistance from the tour leader or the bus driver in front of the tourists, and the travellers accuse me of being incompetent.

 

Excursionists are unsure of themselves and can only feel comfortable when a competent person is escorting them through the country.

 

One of the most disastrous situations happened when I led a big group on foot through the alleyways and side streets of the old city.

 

While I was walking ahead of the group, the group manager gathered several members in a clique to demonstrate his knowledge of the town, which was weak and could have led to the group getting lost. Only a few members of the group followed me.

 

I get annoyed at such a situation. At other times, the converse happens; the group director or priest leads the group, and I lag behind in answering questions. The chief then finds his authority undermined. That man in authority is unlikely to request me as a conductor in the future.

 

A successful excursion requires the tourists to be loyal to both the guide and the captain and to have confidence that competent people are conducting them.

 

My struggle against paranoia makes me hesitant to parade the bombast needed to convince people that the person escorting them knows everything and can extricate them from any possible awkward situation that may arise. 

Skill alone isn't sufficient; one needs to demonstrate this to the group, which must be confident that they are being led by a heroic figure.

 

I recall the time I worked with another guide. He was on one bus, and I was on another. This is an example of the behaviour demanded of a tour guide.

 

After a day of touring, we would meet over dinner in the hotel. Sitting there, he would tell me that he was a bigwig in the army and had fought in all the wars and other grandiose legends about outstanding business transactions on the stock exchange.

 

He even suggested that Dayan, the famous head of the Israeli army, would often consult with him on strategy matters.

 

This man was a megalomaniac. I asked myself, "Can people believe such fabrications?" He spouted these tall tales to the voyagers on his vehicle.

 

A big travel agent employed this lying, haughty bragged as their chief escort.

It didn't matter that he regurgitated historical details, embellishing facts with fiction; they believed his exaggerations.

 

The people listened to him and followed him; that was important.

 

He led the people like a platoon of soldiers marching off to war. They felt secure, and that made them happy.

 

A conductor must take the vanguard and demonstrate, not lecture and be hesitant.

 

The tourists won't listen to accounts of history if they're not aware of his confidence in leading them.

 

I've refused to accept the thought that I am left out all my life. It was ridiculous to think that people knew things about me that I was unaware of or that they hated me and wanted to harm me.

 

I'm writing this book because many people suffer from paranoia.

They have the same sensitivities as me, suspecting people of telling secrets about them and being their enemies because they are outsiders. 

 

These emotions, if not rejected as false, lead individuals to commit heinous crimes or end up institutionalized. I want to encourage people to fight against paranoid feelings.

 

 

 

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