When you can understand the problem of the human heart in conflict with itself, you understand everything. (Raymond Redington – The Blacklist)
Here’s how it all began…. Invitations sent, the venue chosen, deposit check signed and delivered. After sending it back for size changes three times, (overseas, so import charges apply), my dress had finally arrived. Things are coming together for what was supposed to be the happiest day of my life. – But why don’t I feel happy?
Honestly, I never understood the clichéd idea of “girls dreaming about their wedding day.” It was more like the opposite. I could barely picture it. Shy by nature, the thought of all those faces staring at me as I do the long walk to Chuppah (I’m a converted Jew), evokes feelings closer to terror than excitement. Then there’s the subsequent party during which I’m expected to entertain all these people who all came together for the sole reason of celebrating my special day.
However, despite my reservations, I decided to go for it.
I’m 43 years old, I’ve been with my boyfriend for nearly four years… and have been undergoing rounds of IVF for three years – all things considered, what am I waiting for? The right one, maybe? – I hear the voices of girlfriends that married long ago. They all echoed the banal phrase, “when you know, you just know,” only to divorce years later. I search for signs; I try being excited for both of us. Truth be told, I somehow wish that this magical event will elevate us to a higher spiritual level. One where we would unite, communicate, and love from a different and more sacred space – which I actually do believe from both my personal spiritual and religious viewpoint. The ceremony has always been the most important part for me.
After going through an intense two-year Orthodox Jewish conversion (which I completed alone before making Aliyah), I began to see marriage as “the goal.” To be married would make me legitimate and whole. This concept meshed with my over-romantic notion of “soulmates” and finding “the one” person who was meant for me on this planet… but what are the odds, really?
At this age, cynicism takes over and realism sets in. There are plenty of other reasons couples get married, right? Children, finances, companionship – but there’s always that holy grail – True Love. I want that, of course. But maybe not everyone gets to have that. Maybe some of us have to wait for true love – a long, long time. Or perhaps it was found and lost. No regrets. Okay. Then what? Settle for companionship, let a different love fill the void – children, friends, pets, and plants…? (I have a lot of plants)
I’m not trying to depress anyone here, really. I am innately a believer in the fairy tale, but this all comes with a heavy dose of realism. Plagued with questions without definitive answers, and finding no real solace in my partner’s commitment, I canceled my wedding two weeks before the date – which would have been May 13th, 2021, a day that turned out to include the surprise of 2000 rockets from Gaza falling on our heads. What fireworks we would have experienced!
Wedding planning made us fight and filled him with anxiety; he was hardly involved in any of the planning, yet another sign that I was, in fact, marrying myself. marrying my own dreams, goals, and plans for my life. I’ve spent sleepless nights pondering what people must think of me, that I’m ‘unmarriable,’ or thinking that G-d must not want this for me – because I’m somehow unworthy.
Being an Orthodox convert doesn’t come without its share of guilt. Paired however with a true desire to live a life based on what Hashem wants, and fulfilling my role as a Jewish woman. I walk a conflicting line every day between what I feel is expected of me and living an authentic life where I am being true to my own heart’s desires.
Months have passed and the ones who love me, still love and support me. And those who wish me to fail, still wish me to fail. Haters will be haters. Yes, there would be no wedding, but after all, I find that nothing’s really changed. I still have the same hopes, dreams, and goals… except now, I’m doing it on my own. Does a failed marriage attempt make me a failure or unlovable? I think not. Settling is easy… but so much harder in the long run.
My ex and I are still best friends and hope to soon be co-parents. Is marriage a requirement for happiness and fulfillment, or dare I say, moving forward with my dreams of being a mother? I’d argue not. Life is short, they say. However, life gets unbearably long, when married to the wrong person.
I want never to give up on my heart’s dream of total and absolute connection – it’s the purest, most raw form of human interaction, and it changes everything. If that spark is lost, aren’t you really just friends even if you are married?
Who knows which direction my life will take? A few kids running around as my dog Indie plays with his best friend, Zoe (my cat)..? Throw in a few mini goats and my life would be complete.
I would like to be married; I feel there is a sense of calm in knowing that chapter of my life is closed. When that commitment is met with a deep understanding and acceptance of the other’s soul. When we can look into the other’s eyes while standing under the chuppah knowing this is my person. No matter what life sends us, we will be there – together. He doesn’t have to be perfect; we continue our tikkun (working on ourselves) till the day we die. He does need to be present.
When it happens, I will give him my heart and soul and this mixed bag of my past pain, mistakes, and failures. Together we will throw it into the sea and create a new future, a better one. One filled with love and compassion, courage, and all the beauty I want my children to see and believe exists in this world!
The dream must exist; otherwise, what are we searching for?