Written by anonymous
Though it be a hot topic of conversation in most circles, I feel there remains so much stigma and ignorance surrounding the subject matter of shidduchim. This has compelled me to share my thoughts with the hope of opening a few more channels of understanding.
As with everything in life, there are the practical components that need addressing and there is the soul and spirit of the matter as well. Shidduchim is no different.
Many an article has been written, and endless debates and discussions have found their way onto public forums. But very little emphasis has been given to the ‘soul’ of the matter; or more specifically, the soul of the people struggling in shidduchim!
We talk of who is to blame, why so many people are unable to settle down, where the glitch in the system is coming from, and how to resolve it – all of which are necessary and invaluable conversations – but rarely is there mention of how to lessen the ’emotional suffering and broken spirit’ of those caught in the labyrinth of this ruthless and soul-crushing dating journey.
Of course, helping in a practical way is a most meritorious and deeply appreciated endeavor.
But this assistance must not rob a person of their compassion and understanding for those personally navigating the choppy, fierce waters of Shidduchim; which unfortunately is often the case!
Although I state the obvious when I say, that unless a person has been subjected to a particular experience, they could not possibly grasp the nuances and inner complexities of that situation.
There are however many life circumstances where maturity and intellectual awareness, will elicit appropriate respect and empathy towards another, even without the experience itself. Certainly when encountering a person facing a life-altering illness; a couple struggling to conceive; a family facing eviction; an orphan; a widow… For all these people dealing with trauma or tragedy, one would make every effort to tread carefully so as not to exacerbate their suffering.
Regrettably, however, due perhaps to such heavy stigma and erroneous judgment, this respect and compassion appear all too often, to evaporate from the mind, demeanor and approach of those confronting a struggling single.
The above examples you might argue, are not within the control of a person; they are clearly orchestrated by Heaven. But in the case of a single person, they are in the driver’s seat, and their plight is nothing more than the consequence of obstinacy, fantasy, fear…! “Singles choose to be single!”
Not only is this an inaccurate and grossly unfair representation of this ‘Nissoyon’, it is a cruel and heartless attitude that only serves to intensify the deep sorrow and frustration that is so familiar to a single person! Society’s critical eye and disdainful attitude is the salt on the open wound!
It might ‘appear’ to be a choice, but don’t be mistaken into foolishly thinking that Divine Providence guides all and every particular, with the exception of some Shidduchim and some single people!
While I speak in defense of the respect and consideration that should also be afforded to an unmarried person, the single is of course not acquitted of the responsibility for personal growth, regular self-analysis, and therapy if needed, with the purpose of resolving any latent personal issues that might be contributing to the difficulties.
But equally so are close relatives, confidants, shadchanim and individuals dabbling in matchmaking, accountable for the manner and method of their involvement!! They too need to be just as committed to self-awareness and introspection, when dealing with sensitive matters and people in pain.
With the hope of dispelling some prejudice, I offer a peek through a tiny window, into the constant internal struggles of a person living in a society built, obsessed, and defined by the institution of marriage and family life, yet who themselves have neither:
* The dejection of one who watches society, family, friends and neighbors move on with their lives while being left behind.
* The heavy heart that accompanies the passing of every single day, week, month, year, yom tov…
* The humiliation and shame that progressively intensifies.
* The ache that underlies every life decision that is faced alone.
* The niggling daily feelings of emptiness, stagnation and frustration.
* The grief, as another birthday approaches.
* The fear of decreasing shidduch opportunity and the ominous sound of a biological clock ticking.
* The merciless self-doubt and self-berating.
* Being solely defined by ones ‘age’ and losing any sense of innate value.
* Facing rejection after rejection, disappointment after disappointment, heart-break after heart-break.
* Investing effort and money for years, into something that bears no fruits.
* Becoming entrenched in silent despair and despondence.
* Confronting judgement, criticism and derision.
* Watching dreams and hopes dissipate.
* Living in fear that one’s personal salvation might never come.
* Being accused of ‘not wanting to get married’!
* Being forced to reach into the deepest recesses of ones soul to find dignity, faith and patience.
And with all this, the single is not permitted to reveal even the tiniest crack of vulnerability, emotional exhaustion and bitterness for fear of tainting their shidduch reputation and being rendered undesirable!
I do not speak for everyone, but I do speak for most! I share this not for the purpose of criticising or rebuking, nor to paint single people as weak and fragile G-d forbid, nor to promote pity or condescension, but to bring awareness, understanding and compassion.
If my letter reaches one heart or brings validation to one person struggling in silence, or alters one interaction for the better, my efforts and courage in writing this letter, have been worthwhile.