Jan 13, 2010
Shidduchim SOS: "I can pep-talk myself that everyone goes through it. But sometimes, I feel like running into the streets and screaming till my voice could scream no more."
By R.B. for COLlive.com
The whistle blows once. The cluster of girls at the edge of the pool hurriedly assemble a neat, if asymmetrical, line.
The whistle blows again. As if on cue, ten thirteen- year- olds, already bent over in diving position, streak neatly like well aimed arrows, into the water.
One swimmer, in a blue speckled swimming cap, hesitates, then joins the others. From afar, she can hear her name being cheered on. You can do it, she tells herself, echoing those supporters oh so far away.
The half way hurdle has been passed. She steels her eyes to focus on that brick wall at the end. Without even realizing it, she had taken to treading water and had not moved since the three quarter way mark at all!
Tentatively, hopefully, she glances up ahead- and feels her heart drop. The end has never seemed further.
Sometimes, I feel like the girl in the blue speckled swimming cap. Life has a tendency to throw challenges at us, at times with no prior warning at all. There are therefore some we are prepared for, some we're not- and some we think we are prepared for.
Standing at the threshold of the dating world was my comfortable position for a while. When the time came for me to embrace it, I listened carefully to my siblings, friends and well meaning family. Despite my feelings of anxiousness, looking around me, everyone was doing it. I prepared myself as well I could- I read, spent time alone thinking seriously about my future, turned to those more experienced than me with my questions and consumed their ready answers.
Then the third whistle blew and it was time to take the plunge. There was no use delaying it any further. I took a deep breath, and jumped right in.
At first, it was all as expected. The initial shock of finding myself in this new world wore off after the first few dates. It was like trying out a new roller-coaster at the theme park for the first time. Nervous excitement, but oh, the thrill of it!
My mind would play tricks with me, presenting me with images of someone looking extremely like me, dressed in a white wedding gown, a nameless boy at her side. The imagination is a wondrous thing though and that wonderful image spurred me on during those first few months. I felt like I was doing swimmingly well.
It didn't take too long for the excitement to fade. It became continuously harder to feel the thrill. My peers and their instructions rang through my head and I struggled to implement their helpful ideas in my not- so- new- anymore dating world. Take each day at a time? That would have been fine if there weren't days that were full of worry as, stressful and tense, we would wait a good three days to hear back from the other side.
Don't take it personally? Easy to say if you're not the one being turned down countless times after what appeared to you to have been a pleasant and enjoyable date. Then, my favorite line: It's obviously not your time yet. If you can't be the one to tell me when it is time, please- don't remind me that it's not.
And the social pressure! Very soon after I had begun my dating excursions, I noticed that varied conversation was something of the past. Politics, (which used to bore me to tears but now seemed that much more appetizing)sports, community, food- all these topics seemed to take a back seat to a very dominant headline- dating! Every event, every simcha, every phone conversation and Facebook chat- no one could get enough of it and I felt lost in the depth of it all.
I would pep-talk myself: Everyone goes through it. You'll manage somehow. You're doing the best you can. But sometimes, I felt like running into the streets and screaming and screaming till my voice could scream no more and the echoes of my cries would bounce off the silent walls. The pressure was at its boiling point. I was trying to breathe underwater like a sea creature- without the help of fins and scales.
But my strange world proved itself to be a temporary one, as to my honest surprise and concealed shock, some of my friends emerged onto dry land to claim their medal- a wedding, with all its glamour and ecstasy. This wondrous occurrence began to repeat itself a number of times and my disbelief turned into something else. Vivacious green envy, dripping poison in its intensity.
How had they reached their goal? What was I doing wrong? The reaction was one I knew to be unjust, mean, selfish. But how was it that I was still frantically blowing bubbles and they were floating on them?
It was at this point that I decided to take a breather. I stepped back from the scene for some time, and allowed the normality of day to day life wash over me. But my guilty pleasure was short lived as time did not stand still, even for the likes of me. Somewhat revived, I rejoined the race.
Things are different now. Harder than ever, if that were possible.
Conversation around me has switched to talks of maternity clothes and first teeth. The few who remain in my world are focused on their efforts to get out of it - and the depression that comes with it. When I close my eyes and let my mind wander to that far away image of the girl in a white gown- the girl keeps changing, taking on the impression of every one of my married friends in turn. I feel burnt out, exhausted and hopelessly out of breath.
The words of advice I received have yellowed and all but cracked, hardly recognizable and surely of no use anymore. An unnatural feeling, one I am not used to, steals over my heart. Fear. Will I get there in the end? This chase seems to be going nowhere. All leads are followed, to be proven false. Yet the mystery man prevails.
The end has never seemed further.
Waiting for the bashert? Check out COLlive's Shidduchim SOS