Posted in Quotes

“I Hope I Screw This Up”

Over Shabbat I read the book “I Hope I Screw This Up: How Falling in Love with Your Fears Can Change the World” by Kyle Cease. So much reminded me of things we talk about in process group in CPE, it was the same themes of how if we allow ourselves to feel, we will be able to be more connected. How thinking might not be connecting, and sometimes makes things bigger than they are. And even ways to allow one’s self to feel, and when you are open to feeling you are able to grow more. Well, here are some of the quotes that I really liked. Look out for some of my answers to the exercises  he brings up – I’m trying new things this year (yay feelings?!…)

pg. 20

… When we live in that fearful part of ourselves, all sorts of stuff that isn’t really that big of a deal completely starts to feel like it’s life-and-death… those are the things we’ve created stories around in our mind that have linked us back to that fight-or-flight response in our instinctual nervous system. Our minds are constantly putting us in survival modes all day so they can protect us from what they think will be death, and unfortunately, our minds think almost everything is death. Our minds think starting something new is death. They think being judged by other people is death. They think losing a friend is death. If you are wrong about something, that’s death. If you’re not number one, if you get made fun of, if you don’t make enough money, you’ll die…So we’re constantly doing things unconsciously to avoid dying. We judge people before they can judge us. We hold on to relationships and friendships that don’t fill us anymore. We hoard as much money as possible. We avoid following our passions and stay small…

Pg. 29

As I wrote chapter one, my head was blocking my heart from coming through because it was trying to control the outcome of this book (in order to survive), but the head isn’t the enemy. In fact, it’s our job to access and love both the head and the heart at the same time. Our minds are brilliant tools we’ve been given to use in collaboration with the creativity of our hearts, but many of us are living exclusively from our heads and have cut off the infinite wisdom of our souls. Our brains are basically like mid-level employees who have convinced all the other employees that they’re the boss and now everyone’s confused about who’s steering the ship. We then go back and forth between brilliance and chaos on an almost moment-to-moment basis.

Pg. 47

The truth is, none of our emotions are bad. Not sadness. Not fear. Not negativity. It’s not about getting rid of our sadness, it’s about becoming a big enough space that we can totally accept and love every part of ourselves. It’s not about avoiding the dark and moving toward the light. The amount of light that we can bring into the world is equal to the amount of darkness that we can accept and love. We’re not here to feel happy, we’re here to feel fully.

Pg. 131

When we are stressed out and lost in that illusion, sometimes it can feel like the world is crushing us. We feel the strain in our heads as we do everything we can to keep from falling apart. It’s almost like we are these fragile ice cubes that are melting into a glass of warm water. We feel separate and small and like we have to keep it all together or we’ll lose everything. We feel like we are getting smaller and smaller and if we don’t do something quick, if we don’t fight, if we don’t run, we will cease (MY NAME!) to exist.

What if the truth is that we are more like the warm water than the ice cube? What if you could be a space for your fear to dissolve into? What if you were a giant glass of warm water that could love and connect with the fear inside of you? The ice will eventually melt into the water, but if you thought your identity was ice, you would try as hard as you could to stay frozen because you’d think melting meant death. You would have to be more rigid, cold and hard as a protective mechanism if you believed that you were ice.

What ice might not understand is, if it would surrender to the warm water, it would melt, but it would still exist. Not only would it still exist, but it would join together with even more of itself and access an entirely new level of possibility. If the ice cube would just sit back and let itself go, it would slowly dissolve back into what it actually is, a warm, fluid, soft glass of water.

When we are in fear, we are often scared of the love that we are. We are scared to receive love from others and we are unaware that it is inevitable that we will become love.

When you are scared of something, you are like the ice cube. You believe that you have something to protect and you are trying to sustain an old identity. At any moment, you can let go and fall into the love that you are. You can be theater that holds the space for the ice. You are the love that holds the space for the thoughts.

You have nothing to do. It’s being done for you.

Pg. 136-137

Ice has to constantly create a freezing situation to live. Fear is the same way.

…People who are in fear have to surround themselves with others who are in fear. People who complain about everything must be around other fear-based people to keep their ice cube frozen. When fear-based people are around people who are self-connected, they feel threatened. Water can remain ice that everything is okay, and that would mean that ice is wrong. The worst thing to someone in fear is to be wrong. People who are in fear think that being wrong means death. They would rather fight, and even kill, others than face the fact that there is more to life than what they believe…

If you were to go for at least ten days phoneless, medialess, and without other people who act like ice cubes, you would melt very, very quickly. You would be like a boiling pot of water and you would feel your old identity dissolve into the infinite space of possibility and creativity that you are. You would feel expansion of love. You would feel a new level of fulfillment while also feeling a sense of letting go. There would be sadness as you mourned the old story of who you thought you were. You would feel tears as you said good-bye to the old protective mechanisms that helped you through a challenging world and a difficult childhood. You would say good-bye to the old story of protection that did what it had to do to not feel abandoned or yelled at, or ignored or hurt by your parents. You would feel that ice cube that you might have identified with for years dissolve into the real you. It would dissolve into your infinite ocean.

Pg. 187

we are not here to judge the world outside and try to change it to fit our minds’ controlling, limited viewpoint. Instead we are here to see the love in everything. Everything is you. Everything is in purpose. Even your thinking that you are out of purpose is in purpose.

Your pain is in your love for some of life but not all of it. Our resistance to what is cuts us off from our soul. Our acceptance of what is connects us to everything and makes way fora  true internal healing followed by an external healing. As your internal state becomes fluid and in alignment with your true nature, your external world will begin to mirror that alignment. Later you will discover internal and external are the same. 

As we sit and watch, we can discover that the judgment that come up in our heads are, and always have been, an illusion. All of our separation and fear is pure illusion. You will start to discover that the only difference between you and everyone else is the story in your head. This sounds crazy to the mind because it is a separation machine. For the mind to survive it has to be separate from everything and everyone it sees so it can maintain its individual story. When we move beyond the mind, we enter a dimension where we see how much of a lie that actually is. Our bodies and minds are like individual rivers that all flow to and from the same ocean.

Pg. 239

The biggest reason we stress is because we are trying to control the things that we can’t control the things that we can’t control and aren’t controlling what we can. There are so many things that we can’t directly control. We can’t control what a football team just did, We can’t control our past. We can’t control what other people think about us. However, we love to grab on to these situations and argue with them because we can’t do anything about it.

We can control our decisions. We can control our intention. We can control who and what we surround ourselves with. But the biggest thing we can control is … whether or not we accept this moment fully. This moment that you are in right now, do you accept it completely? Do you accept all of your emotions? Do you accept all of your past and future? DO you accept what they said about you? Do you accept the things might have been working against your expectations? Do you? If you do, you will move forward into a place within yourself that will allow you to start cocreating  with life in a magical way, and the new world that you want to live in will start to show up around you.

 

Advertisements
Posted in CPE, Life

Feeling Guilty for Feeling Happy

I’ve been feeling quite strange lately, and I think that I have figured at least part of it out.

I realized that my heart is not breaking every day. I realized that my heart isn’t crying in pain everyday, the truth is at times my heart is singing and is quite comfortable.

I realized that my heart is not yearning to go back to Israel – actually, it is quite fearful of the return. Worrying about what would I actually do there. Worrying about if I studied for so long, why would I go to a country that will not recognize my degree. Worrying about starting over, AGAIN. Worrying over, what if I have to move away again. Worrying about who my friends will be, because by then two years will have past, and I know that I am different, but I also know that all those who I was close with will also be different.

I realized that I am enjoying what I am doing. That the work that I am doing is good for me (although at the same time I am struggling with why I need to be a rabbi for it). I really do like the work at the hospital. I like the staff, I like meeting with the patients (even though I am not always 100% sure that I am doing the right thing).

I realize that I am trying to settle down. I feel like I’m in limbo. I want to decorate my room, I want to make friends, I want to be part of a community – but then again, this job is only for a year, and I know in a few months time I will be looking for a job, which will probably not be in New York.

I realize that this year is a stabalizer, but to be then spun out back into instability and the unknown.

I feel like I know less of what I want to do next now then I did before. There is still a part of me who wants to be in a pulpit. There is still a part of me that wants to be teaching Torah and speaking Torah on a regular basis. There is still a part of me that wants to do the thing that is said to not be able to do be done. But then there is a part of me that is enjoying just doing work that has nothing to do with politics. There is a part of me that is enjoying that quiet. There is a part of me that is enjoying the lack of pain of others (yes, I know that sounds silly as a chaplain) – but what I mean is that those who are working in the system are not in pain from the system, they are not trying to fight a system and constantly be brought down by it, even the system that says they want to help.

I feel like by being a hospital chaplain I am both rebelling and doing the thing I am “supposed to do”. The world of Orthodox female rabbis is that of creating great change in communities, and here I am just working in a hospital- I am no longer part of that fight. I can’t even attend the webinars or conference calls because they are all done at times that never work with my schedule – but they are conversations that are not for me. At the same time, I am doing a job that no one questions. It is not weird in the Orthodox world for a woman to dedicate her life to visiting the sick, it is good “woman’s work”. It is a thing that you can do and you don’t need to have ordination. You are not deciding law. You are not leading congregations. You are not speaking in front of men and teaching Torah. We nurture and we care and we hold others. I am doing the thing that I never wanted to do…I never wanted to be pigeonholed in “women’s work”, but it is what I am doing and where I am finding joy…

Before I left Israel, I mentioned something about wanting to do chaplaincy, and someone told me that I shouldn’t, that I would be letting down Orthodox women. I am told that it is a shame to let my halachic knowledge “go to waste”. It is a shame to not try and push forward in the traditional field, because I know that I can make great changes for others.

So here I am holding both this guilt of doing the easy thing, of not crying all the time, of not mourning and longing my life in Israel – with the fact that work is making me happy.

Posted in D'var Torah, Uncategorized

Losing

I had a very weird experience this Shabbat- while listening to the Torah and Haftorah reading, all I wanted to do was cry.

I have read Vayera many times. It is the one with Sedom getting destroyed and Lot’s daughters sleeping with him; it’s the one where Sarah get’s pregnant and has Yitzchak;  it’s the one where Hagar gets sent out this time for real because Yishmael was “playing” with Yitzchak; It’s where Avraham tells Sara to be his sister, yet again, and of course they get caught and there is confusion and anger; it is the one where Abraham both prays to not destroy Sedom and goes down the numbers; it is the one where Abraham and Yitzchak go for a “walk” and where he ties up his own son to give over to God.

So it’s pretty famous. Parts are read on Rosh Hashana. It is one of the parshiot that has all the “good” stories for when you are teaching. But this year I just sat in shul with tears forming in my eyes.

I tried to figure out why, and really I don’t even have a good answer.

I do think that it is a parsha where there are a lot of female characters and they are trying to have power, but it always seems weird. Like Lot’s daughters think that the world has ended, so they decide to get their father drunk and then sleep with him to repopulate the world. So yes, in some ways they are the ones in control – it is their decision, not their father’s to try to repopulate; they come up with a plan; for all they know they are actually the only humans left on earth, and so they will be the mothers of the new world. But then again – the world they knew was utterly destroyed; they almost were sent out to an angry mob to calm the mob down, but allowing an entire community to just rape them; and here they are and the “only” option they can think of is to have sex with their father!!

Or we can go with Sara. She finally has a child. After the years of being infertile and all the stress that means, especially is such a society, so conceives and then gives birth. She also is still married to what seems like a very important person, that still is hanging out with the greatest leaders of the time, and she gets to tag along. But what happens – well, her maidservant’s child (who she thought would be a good idea to try and repopulate their family) is doing weird things with her son that she just had – her choices are to either send that woman and boy away or to watch her son be hurt, so she has to then throw them out. Yes, there is power in that- Avraham is told to listen to everything she says. By throwing them out, she is now the woman in control of the household and her son is the only son to think about, there is no in person competition. But it will make a scene, she is throwing someone into the desert, there is no way to know if they can or will survive. And she has to throw them out because there is abuse going on in her household!

And then there is the time that she is going along with Avraham, and once again says yes to go along with his plan to “be his sister” when they go to Canaan. Ok, so maybe it would save him – but they did this plan already and it did not go the way they wanted it to. And why would it be better, to once again be brought to the kings palace and try to push off his seductions – really, because what I have learned is if you say no to the king, it’s basically off with your head. So better her head than her husband?

And then there is Avraham. He seems like he is fighting for the good of the people. He doesn’t think that a nation should just be destroyed. He believes that there MUST be some good, there can’t be complete evil in the world. Well, he learns the hard way that there were not even 10 good and decent people in Sedom (what does that say about our world today?!) and so he had to watch a nation get destroyed. In some ways he prayers failed, all of his fighting and thinking were just pushed away and thought of as nothing.

And then there is the end of the Parsha, where he is asked to go and sacrifice his son. The one that he was praying for and begging for, he now has to be the hand that will kill him. Again it seems like God is taking away the gifts that He has given, but Avraham must be a witness to the loss and destruction. It seems clear that Avraham didn’t kill Yitzchak (ok, maybe he did but then Yitzchak was revived), but he still lost him. Yitzchak goes away. They have no more conversations. They have no more in person interactions. So he might have not killed his person, but he did kill his relationship.

And then the Haftorah, was a woman who had no children – Elisha performed a miricle and she had oil (so she could then sell it for money) and she conceived. But soon after the son was born, he fell sick and died, and so she calls out to Elisha to help her once again. He is able to bring him back from the dead, but there was still that bit where her life was given and then taken away. She had to go through that craziness twice.

I am not sure what my actual conclusion is – but I do know that this Parsha made me think a lot about loss. Loss of blessings, loss of power, loss of independence, loss of control, loss of connection…

Posted in Life

It’s Been A While

It’s been a while since I have written. I’ve been thinking about writing, and then thinking that there isn’t really much to say. Most of my life right now is with CPE – both being at the hospital and being in group. And in group, I have to process A LOT — like we have two days a week of process group and one day a week of individual supervision. By the end of it, I just feel processed out- or that the thoughts in my head are brought out in public (it still makes my heart beat really, really fast) or that I’m just too tired to go through my day again once I am home.

The other thing, is that I think I might be becoming happy again. The truth is, I really like the work I am doing in the hospital. I’m making connections with patients and with staff. I’ve been told from the staff on my floors that they notice my work. On the floor that people told me don’t try to know all the staff, there are so many- I think I know the majority of the staff and they know who I am, and that includes the doctors. For the first time in a while, I feel like I am actually doing something. I am not wasting my day staring at a wall or just listening to the same issues over and over again, knowing that there is nothing can be done except for make myself nothing…

Yes, my job is to sit with people in their pain and suffering. But the difference here at the hospital is that their pain, or at least part of their pain is not caused by Man, it is caused by God. They are not being put through something because of a power struggle or some stupid politics. They are being pushed down by a person who should be helping them up. Yes, being ill and being in the hospital can be scary, frustrating, overwhelming, cause anger – and it would make things so much easier if there was a way to say someone became ill because they did x or because of person y, but there isn’t. With the struggles we were going through, we were able to pin point x and y, and then there was just nothing to do about it.

Other than work, there really isn’t much going on in my life. I still can’t get a date to save my life. (The other day one of the nurse assistants had fun on Jswipe for me- some of the guys she picked were SO not my type, but whatever, it’s not like they will talk to me anyways). I’m still trying to figure out community in the UWS. I’ve decided to just go to shul on Shabbat morning, there is one relatively close to my apartment, and lots of young people go, so I am going there. I’m still trying to find friends. I had a bunch of people for a last minute shabbat dinner last week, and the truth was, I didn’t want to hang out with any of them, but I also didn’t want to sit and eat alone. And as I was talking to F, both of us said that we don’t want to be the host of the misfits/weirdos/still singles….

So that is about it.

HAPPY NOVEMBER!!!

Posted in Lost

some thoughts and musings

So I am not sure if these will make sense or actually be interesting to anyone, but I need to get them out of my head, so I will try…

  • Last week I broke down in class. To be honest I am not sure why a conversation about not being understood make me SO exhausted. Made me so tired that all I wanted was to disappear, dissolve or melt into the couch. What was even more shocking was that I said that out loud – another thing I don’t know why I did. I don’t really think it felt cathartic, if anything I felt bad. I felt that I shared too much. I felt that I was just broken. I felt like I wanted to run away – but I was unable to do so.
  • I think that I am feeling too much and I am not so sure what to do with that. I think that I am feeling too much and I am having trouble holding other people’s feelings. I don’t have the energy to be a good friend right now – and I feel bad about that. I have no desire to listen to my friend’s anxieties and difficulties. I find it frustrating that some are still reaching out to me even when I said explicitly that I did not have time because I was going to be running around like a chicken without a head – but still they try to get in touch, and then I feel bad about not being able to be there – but I couldn’t do it.
  • I want to share some of my feelings, but I don’t think that I really have so many places to do so. It is uncomfortable to be so vulnerable with people who are not used to me being vulnerable – so I just have to hold onto my vulnerability and find a way to hold it in.
  • We speak quite a bit about family in CPE and I am realizing how distant my family is to one another. How we speak to each other once a week, but that is about it. My family is not very much part of my life- I thinking about it both by choice and by circumstance. I worry that my family doesn’t want me- that I am too much for them, so they are happy that I have primarily taken myself far away, so all they need to do is deal with me from a distance. I don’t feel like they understand me. I know that my parents at times try, but it never met what I was looking for – and I guess I either did not try enough to explain and/or they were not able to listen or understand what I was telling them.
  • I think about my not learning to drive or not enjoying it- and maybe it was just my subtle way of showing my parents that I need them. That it was a time that they would then spend with me, because otherwise it would never happen…
  • I got into another fight with my sister. I think that she hates me… I feel horrible about that. She said to my face that there is no point in talking to me because we have nothing in common…. we might not have so much in common, but I do think we have some stuff. But without speaking we will never figure that out… I know that she has been living in my shadow. I know that I am very publicly accomplished, and that is hard for her that I get the attention and she didn’t. I know that she thinks that my life is so easy and that I just get what I want… I just wish she was willing to sit and talk and maybe then she could she that I feel terribly alone, not wanted, and scared. I wish she would be able to see that I am weak and not all that she is making up in her head…
  • Over Chag, I went to a shul. I heard from the women that at night they were given a Torah to dance with…but it was pasul. During the time the men were all getting aliyot the women were speaking words of Torah. Some were beautiful. Some were very much from the heart. But then there were some that just read a d’var Torah that some man wrote and they printed from the internet. SO many apologized before speaking or thanked the crowd profusely as if someone was doing them some great favor for allowing them to speak words of Torah. WHY?! Why can’t they just get up there and speak, and know they are good. One woman who is a neurologist (yup, she works with brains all day) before she spoke apologized and thanked everyone– YOU WORK WITH BRAINS! I wish we lived in a world where women had more confidence in their abilities.
  • Someone tried to set me up with someone in shul – it brought me to tears. He is a 32 year old WHO WEARS A SHERIFF’S BADGE EVERY DAY!!!!! At first she described him as quirky, which is fine. I asked what type of quirky and this is what I see. AM I THAT WEIRD? AM I THAT SAD? IS THAT ALL MY OPTIONS? Either to be with a super weird guy or be alone?! I don’t think I’m being to picky on this one. Looking at someone shouldn’t bring you to tears of self pity, I think…
  • In CPE group we are slowly learning more about each other. And the other day I head this in almost all stories (maybe this is what exhausted me) – the pain that seminaries cause their students. How is it that in a group of 6, 5 of us felt a detachment to God and spirituality WHILE studying to be clergy?! How is it possible that while becoming clergy we felt hurt and broken by the system- and just had to push through?! How is it possible that those who we see as teachers of God and that is holy is capable of such abuse?! And why are we all willing to go through it, and work in the world of God/the spiritual?….
Posted in CPE

Homework Assignment: Try Sharing

So with CPE we have individual supervision. Yesterday my supervisor gave me an assignment- that today, when we had group, I needed to share some of my feelings of loneliness, anger, sadness and fear. Yup, he wanted to me really share some of the things that I am going through. He wanted me to share not only my relationship with God/spirituality/religion, but also my feelings right now. And in addition, I need to write to him in the morning to tell him how it went.

I’m apprehensive of sharing, just for sharings sake. I found that in all places I was pushed to share my feelings it was mostly for voyeuristic vulnerability. I was placed in situations to share and cry, but then there was no one that was there to pick me up. There was no real purpose to the sharing other than just sharings sake. There were even times I was told explicitly that even though I feel a certain way, they don’t care. Or asked “so are you doing ok now” after crying hysterically, as if lunch time was going to change how I felt. And following that there was no follow up.

In addition, sharing is hard for me because I feel like the things that I am going through are just spoken about SO often. Who really wants to talk about the loneliness and frustrations of being single. Who wants to talk about what it means to be an orthodox female rabbi and the difficulties that go along with that. In the past year, the group I was speaking with were also orthodox female rabbis, so it was everyone’s pain. My story was someone else’s story, and we were just running in it. It really was a place of trying to encourage one another, because we really do need one another to create change.

I also don’t like to feel vulnerable or even worse broken. I don’t want to hear words that are either pity or trying to convince me that I am good or that “it will all be ok”. I do know that it is ok to be sad/angry/etc, but I also need those around me to allow me to feel that way. To see where I am coming from. To allow me to feel that, so I don’t need to switch to the strong one right away- although I do know how to do it.

Well, today was the day. To be honest I was quite nervous about what I would say and how I would say it. I didn’t know what conversations would be happening and really didn’t think I would have the guts to bring this up if it was a different topic altogether.

It turned out I shared a lot…twice. I both started and ended my day in tears (I also brought others to tears, just from crying).

The day started by a passage that one of the other residents brought to start our day. It was about following in the way of God and if one does, then one will feel whole. Many in the group were talking about how much it meant to them, and how it spoke to them. While she was reading I was already tearing up, something I really didn’t want to do. There was a part of the passage that spoke about not looking for acceptance in humans, but rather in God. And through following God you will find happiness. It was then that broke me. I am struggling so much with the feeling of being torn- of doing what I think is right for me to be doing, but for it to be in a place that I will have to be alone, with marriage prospects being slim to none or doing something else so I can be in a larger place. I brought up my fears of being alone forever, and how hard it is to be alone, and the difficultly for me of thinking that this is what God wants for me- how it is not something I am willing to accept yet. I spoke about how hard it is to be single during the holidays and the struggle of feeling alone.

Well, that got another member to speak about her difficulties, and she said allowed that she was thankful that I said what I said, because she thought everyone else was feeling in line with the text. Another woman spoke about the difficulties of being in a relationship with an atheist, and how even in partnership there can be great loneliness and trials.

And then we had some class. And then we had our spirituality process group. It was the first one, so our supervisor started just with two questions – what is our concept of God, and what is the area we are struggling the most with God right now and how might that effect our work as chaplains.

I didn’t really have much intention of it being such a big thing. And I definitely didn’t expect it to be the main point of conversation.

I shared how in some ways I feel guilty that I am doing chaplaincy instead of doing a shul job. How I still feel bad that I gave up fighting in Israel. How being in the hospital I feel outside of my community – that I am not dealing with any of the politics, I am not preparing sermons or programs for shuls, I am not able to go to process group (and even if I could I wouldn’t have much to share), I’m having an experience that is not furthering the path of orthodox women. I shared that I haven’t learned anything since I was in Colombia, that something is keeping me from picking up any books, to the fact that I am 50 dapim off on daf yomi. I shared that I even lost my Bar Ilan disk on key, basically the first day of work…in essence lost my Torah. I shared that doing chaplaincy I’m not really working with people of my faith background, and that well, nothing I learned in the past five years is useful for this work. I shared that others have told me that I am “giving up” or doing a “disservice” to orthodox women, because I have a training that almost no one else has, and I should be doing something with it to better Orthodox Jewish women.

Well, I started sharing and then my supervisor had even more questions, and got me to share my feelings. Others in the group started to share bits and to see my pain and fight. It was not a fight they are part of nor did they realize that this was something I was carrying. Others shared their anger at my situation, told me that maybe it is a good thing for me to do things for me this coming year, and maybe see what happens after to where I feel I need to go, giving me blessings that I should find peace. One woman was silently crying next to me – sharing in my frustration and pain, and unable to talk about her own pain.

But then something different happened today. People came over to me to find out if I was ok. People came over to me to tell me that there was something in what I said that resonated with them, and reminding me that I deserve more for myself, even though I have done something different and historic.  One told me that she was worried that she would not be able to connect with me because I am more brain than feelings, and this allowed her to feel connected to me. I received text messages of stories of similar struggle in another religion or just a message even later in the evening to make sure that I am still doing ok. I even got an email from my supervisor thanking me for sharing.

I am used to being the strong one. The feminist fighter. The one who creates and gets others to create and follow. I am used to sharing and it feeling like it fell on deaf ears, and I’m left in my heaviness alone. But today it was different. Yes, I still wanted to crawl into a ball, and I was still exhausted at the end of it. Even though I did feel kinda weird that my story was what was expanded and we spent a lot of time one, it was not bad. My pain is part of who I am, and a lot of it is the language that I use in my life, and something that others in my group are not aware of. It did seem like others had points of connection 0 I am not the only one feeling lost, alone, destabilized. And I guess more so for me, I didn’t really feel like my sadness/pain was a burden. I didn’t feel like others were overflowing with things that they were not going to be able to be there for me.

So it wasn’t so bad in the end. Yea, my brain feels like mush right now. Yes, I get that sharing allows others to connect. Yes I get that seeing me in states of vulnerability lowers things down, so I am not the one running around doing thing – I too am holding some pain and struggle. You never know when your pain will be an opening for someone else to share or for someone else to know that they are not alone.

This is going to be an interesting year

 

Posted in Dating

The Pain of Singlehood

Last Shabbat I sat around a table with 6 women. Two were in relationships and the rest of us were single. All of us are accomplished women. All of us have jobs, are healthy, seem stable and are doing things in the world. And all of us felt the pain of being single and in our late 20’s and early 30’s.

The topic of the holidays came up and everyone spoke about the pain that it was to go home. Of the looks that they would get in shul because once again they are still single. Or all the other people their age in shul are married or have kids with them. Or the conversation with people would be filled with looks of pity, because even though they are accomplished women, they are still not really accomplished because they don’t have a ring on their finger.

There was the pain that goes on when they go home. One woman saying that she has to give her bedroom up to her younger married sister- because she is married. That her parents refuse to buy another big bed, and that the other rooms in the house are ok for all the guest, including grandparents, but when her sister comes to the house she must get her room. She has tried talking to her parents and even to her sister and they don’t listen. They think she is over reacting. They think that it is a crazy idea to buy other big beds or to rotate space in the house. They think that only her sister and her husband need privacy, because why would a 32 year old single woman need any privacy.

We spoke about the pain of once again being in shul and praying that we would be able to get married. That we should be able to find happiness in ourselves but at the same time we also want someone else there. That we are tired of being treated as little kids, just because we don’t have a ring on our finger – and how even though we know we are not little kids, but we hear it enough, so maybe it is true, and maybe we fall into those pattern.

This past Friday night I was at my friend’s house. I was away for chag and for the most part it was great. Yes, I did not choose to go home for the holiday. A bit because three days with my parents would be hard. But a really large part is that I feel very uncomfortable in their shul – it is clear that I am the older single. That people don’t know how to interact with me. That most of the members are younger than me and are running after their children.

So there I was sitting on my friend’s couch talking about life, and the topic of singlehood came up. I tried to explain the great pain that it causes me. The pain of feeling unwanted. The pain of feeling that I am able to accomplish so many great things and unexpected things in my professional life, but when it comes to my personal life I can’t even get a date. The pain of desire that can’t be filled. The pain of wanting just to be held, not even marriage, but even that I can’t find. The pain that comes with the vulnerability to tell everyone I know that I am single and looking, and for people just to tell me ok or that I am special.

My friend was no helpful to me. She told me that I was exaggerating and that “it will all happen at the right time.” I am told on the one hand that I need to make sure to be in the place where there are lots of singles (I have been- and haven’t dated). And that I need to do what my heart tells me to do, and it will be there that I will find someone (also hasn’t happened yet). She told me that she knows what it is like to be single and “older”- she got married at 26- I told her that she doesn’t know what it is like to be single at 32. She tried to tell me that it can still happen – but she just doesn’t know guys (also something I hear often, ‘I just don’t know any good guys’).

And then tonight I sat with my friend as she cried because being home was fighting to be seen and heard. Because there are only so many times you can be asked if you are dating anyone and for the answer to have to be no. Because there are only so many people you can see with partner and children before you start to feel like that only one that is single, and so there must be something wrong with you.

I wish there was a real way to explain how painful being single is. I also wish that I was strong enough for it not to be painful- that I can take to heart that I don’t need a man to “complete me” or that I can find full happiness in myself or that I am able to stand up to social pressures and do the best I can do in the world even though I don’t have a partner…

But the pain is there not only because of social pressure. I do know that I am capable of great things and  I am not letting it stop me. The pain is there because it hurts. Because it feels lonely. Because people treat you poorly. Because it is something that I desire but feels unattainable.