“I now know that one Jewish stereotype is right on – Jews really do love to eat!” Janice Fall spent over a decade married to a Jewish man, but it wasn’t until she moved into Beit T’Shuvah that she saw the bigger picture.
After a brief period of detox and treatment elsewhere, Janice. came to Beit T’Shuvah in November 2017. “I wasn’t ready to go home and be by myself. Beit T’Shuvah answered the phone and answered a prayer,” Janice says. “And it was okay that I’m not Jewish.”
For many years, Janice lived a quiet life. She married her long-time boyfriend and they raised three children. Janice and her husband practiced their religions together, Janice as a Lutheran, her husband as a Jew. Their interfaith marriage seemed a non-issue. Non-issue, that is, until they moved just blocks from another family member. Suffice to say things became divisive and the marriage fell apart.
Then Janice was hit with the perfect storm: her marriage failed and she had to fight for custody, her father – whom she had moved from West Los Angeles to San Pedro to care for – died, and she had to put her dog to sleep. “Although I was granted custody of the kids, I wasn’t comfortable leaving them home alone in San Pedro in the afternoons, so I gave my ex joint custody,” she says. Suddenly she found herself bereft, lonely and isolated. She moved back to Los Angeles after a couple of years, but by that time the damage was done. Subterfuge by her ex and her brother deprived her of resources, both emotional and financial. Janice began drinking when she was alone. In 2002 she went to her first AA meeting and stayed sober for five years.
In 2007, Janice was involved in a serious car accident, in which she suffered head and back injuries. She couldn’t work and lived in pain. “I had to give up my apartment,” Janice recounts. “I began renting rooms, something I had never done before, and my self-esteem plummeted.” By 2015, her drinking was out of control; Janice was in and out of AA several times. By 2017, she’d had enough. Janice sought treatment and after a stint elsewhere was welcomed in to Beit T’Shuvah.
“I have learned so much here,” says Janet. “When I got here, I believed that I was the only sinner in the family, that I was getting what I deserved. It was a revelation when Dahlia, my therapist, told me that it was possible that I had made good decisions despite some bad outcomes. That maybe this wasn’t all my fault.” Janice is learning how to forgive herself. And Janice has spent her time here participating in her own recovery. In addition to daily Torah study, which she really enjoys as part of her daily religious studies, and her participation in choir, she has grown to love communal living. “It reminded me that I have love in my heart for nearly everyone.”
Janice’s future looks bright. At the end of October she is relocating to Missouri to an apartment adjacent to the home of her aunt and her aunt’s husband, and near one of her best friends. She plans to get a job and to attend cosmetology school. She is continuing to write two books for children and their parents can read together. Janice is coming alive again, running with the newfound freedom from alcohol and self-loathing. Despite some persistent knee pain, “my body no longer hurts when I dance.”