Monday, December 27, 2010
To catch you up a little, I've managed to get my life pretty much back in order. I like living on my own, and I've found plenty to keep me busy. I only miss being part of a couple when I'm at any affair where most of the attendees are in a couple - which is most of the affairs that happen in the frum world. I've always heard that holiday season is especially hard for singles; turns out that's true. And it's really hard to find a vacation companion when you're no longer "one of the girls" but also not a couple. But I've been swamped with Shabbos invitations, sometimes from the most unexpected sources, and everyone has been making a point of being accepting and sympathetic and supportive. I'm in a good place.
There's definitely a part of me that wants to be part of a couple, but I don't want to go through all the same second-guessing and misery again. So I'm trying to work through my issues on my own, before jumping back into the dating game. Of course, it's possible that the only way to find some of these things out is to start dating again, but I haven't yet exhausted the other avenues yet, so I haven't started dating again. I'm considering it, but I vacillate on whether I want to.
It's hard for me to work through my issues, since I'm trying to do it alone. Therapy was a bad move for me: I think at least some of the issues I'm dealing with were created by the therapists. Maybe not, but some of these are ideas I probably wouldn't have been able to come up with myself, so I'm not rushing back into therapy.
The idea I've been wrestling with recently is asexuality. There are forums that discuss asexuality, but none of them address this condition within the context of a family-minded community. Maybe some of the organizations that deal with homosexuality in the frum community have applicable ideas - it's a similar issue in that homosexuals also can't start a traditional family, and the questions about nature vs. nurture are similar - but asexuality shouldn't have the same cultural or halachic taboos. Lack of sexual desire wouldn't lead a person to anything prohibited by the Torah - in fact, it's almost like a geder on gilui arayos. Asexual people, then, have one fewer major ta'avah in their lives. But it does make it difficult to start a family if you're not willing to have sex.
Some people discount the possibility of asexuality; clearly, they'll say, you just haven't met the right one yet. Of course, they'll say that to homosexuals as well. I was never able to decide if I believed that homosexuality was a choice, but I do believe that Orthodox doctrine is that people are judged only for their actions, not for their thoughts or desires. Homosexuality wouldn't be a sin; only homosexual intercourse. There are many urges that we have that we are not allowed to act upon, and this is just another one.
I read an article on one of the frum blogs asking why any girl would date a guy she knew to be homosexual. I'd like to suggest that there are frum girls out there who want to be married, since it's certainly the thing to do, but may not be interested in the sexual aspect of marriage. There are frum asexual women. There are probably frum homosexual women, too.
Am I asexual? I've had my share of sexual fantasies. I'm not immune to good looks. But I have yet to be "turned on" by anything.
But then again, maybe I just haven't met the right guy.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
But it's harder too. I didn't think I'd be so emotional. I'm still crying every time I talk about it. I don't consciously feel sad, but the tears come anyway. Maybe it's a leftover autonomous reaction from all that therapy, or maybe it's a genuine emotion trying to express itself; I don't know. I'm not happy about it, though: it's making it harder for me to be matter-of-fact when talking about the whole thing, which makes me not talk about it, which makes it look like it bothers me more than I think it does. And yes, I know that it seems weird for something to bother me if I think it shouldn't, because being bothered ought to be in my head, but there is so much that is strange about this whole process that I've stopped keeping track.
The other thing, not so surprising but just as bothersome, is that I've been constantly changing my mind about things. Not about the divorce: I'm more and more pleased with that decision. But everything else: whether to sell all my furniture or just some, whether to buy an apartment or continue to rent, whether to get something large enough for a possible future roommate or small enough just for me, whether to go back to school or not, whether to go back to school in the same field as my current field or switch to something different. Yes, it's wonderful to have the world so open, but it's horrible not to be able to trust my decisions. I waver on all these things, making a decision and then completely changing my mind a week or a day later. It's not indecision - I'm intimately familiar with that particular state of mind - it's constantly changing priorities. Thus, I've decided not to make any big decisions or do anything new until after Rosh Hashana: give myself a little time to settle down.
Other than that, I'm doing great.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
I'm definitely feeling better physically. Two years of stress is horrible on the body. I'm not doing so well mentally yet, but it's not the same type of mental stress as before. Now it's lawyers who don't call back except when they want money. It's dealing with insurance companies who won't pay claims. It's trying to get through a long list of painful and tedious tasks to tie up loose ends for a few years of my life. These are all short term stresses, though, and I am fully confident that I will get everything done.
Of course, once these short term stresses are cleared up, I'll have the old pre-marriage stresses of "you're frum, you're getting older, you need to be married" come crashing right back down. But this time, I can say I want my own apartment, I don't want to be right in the thick of societal pressures, I don't want to see and be seen. I can get away with a lot more, since I've been through a trauma and a stigmatizing event. The trauma explains my unwillingness to get back into the social scene and the meat market, and the stigma allows me to do other unconventional things. Living outside my parents' home is not as bad as being divorced. Watching TV is not as bad as being divorced. Going to Broadway shows is not as bad as being divorced. The examples abound, and it means I'm actually more free now to explore what life I am comfortable living than I ever was. Granted, there are still a whole host of things I want to do that I still won't do because of religious concern, but the vast world of merely socially unacceptable things has become so much more accessible to me.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
the man I married was pretty much everything I wanted. And I still
want. The only reason we couldn't make things work was that I wasn't
happy. He couldn't make me happy. Semantics. I feel guilty.
Anger helps. It's not real anger; it more of a sad, frustrated
disappointment. Maybe disillusionment? I'm not angry, per se, at my
husband, although I think he bears some of the blame for this
disaster. First and foremost in the list of his mistakes was valuing
his Rosh Yeshiva more than his wife. That pretty much doomed the
relationship. But I can't fault him for that completely; it is a sad
but true fact that today's yeshiva world encourages young men to put
yeshiva before family. First they destroy the parents' authority, then
they minimize the wife's credibility. It works fine if the wife is
willing to submit to the Rosh Yeshiva's will, and luckily, a lot of
Bais Yaakov girls are. Poor me; I wasn't. I thought I married someone
who understood the importance of making (and taking responsibility
for) one's own decisions, but it turned out not to be so.
I'm more angry with all the rabbanim and therapists who've been
involved in this. Pretty much all of them have said some version of "I
could have told you that this was doomed from the start" at some
point. Some of them say it multiple times, in multiple ways, and the
message is always the same: I was an idiot to get into this and I
should have seen that this marriage couldn't work. After all, they all
could see it, clear and obvious. Gee, thanks. How helpful. How
brilliantly observed: you see a couple in distress, and you can tell
they're not meant for each other. Such powerful insight. What about
the experts I consulted prior to the wedding, then? Why couldn't they
see it? Isn't da'as Torah da'as Torah? Or were those people just
idiots? What about family? Why didn't any of them see it? (And trust
me, my family wouldn't have been shy if they didn't approve of my
choice. They might not have stopped me, but they'd have said
My family's been amazing: no "I told you so"s, no recrimination.
Everyone's been supportive so far. Of course, they all knew I was
miserable for a long time, so maybe they're just glad to see the end
of that. Or maybe they're saving the recriminations for when I'm a
little less emotionally fragile.
Mostly, I'm angry at myself. I know hindsight is 20/20, but I saw some
of the signs before the wedding. Why didn't I realize they were
meaningful and not brush them off as things that would improve with
time? And why wasn't I able to get over them and let them get better
with time? I'm a master at beating an issue to death; I'll be doing a
lot of self-flagellation in the next few months.
But mostly I know that no one's to blame. It's just how things are. It
truly saddens me to live in a world where this is how things are, but
we've somehow let our society develop into this. I don't know how to
fix it, and frankly, I don't know that I want to: the people who made
this mess deserve to live with it. The unfair part is that they're not
suffering for it: I am. I'm suffering for a world I didn't create and
don't approve of. Olum hafuch, indeed. þ
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somewhat sorry to say. All that's left is paperwork and picking up the
pieces and figuring out where to go from here. I hope not too many of
you were rooting for this, but here it is.
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Monday, April 12, 2010
She picked up on a lot of truths about my life - and there's a whole
lot of pain and suffering in those truths. But there are other truths
in my life: I have a good job, a profession that can be a career, and
I'm really good at it. I get to do all sorts of fun things, like serve
as a subject matter expert and speak at conferences. Really stokes the
ego. I also have a wonderful, supportive family. I have dreams, and
every so often - even amid the misery that is eclipsing everything
else - I take baby steps toward my dreams. My life is not all bad, and
it's not hopeless. The reason I may seem hopeless here is because this
blog is where I let out my pain. I started this blog so that others
who fell into the "you're in your mid-20's; you must get married" trap
would have something to tell them they're not alone. I looked for that
when I first realized my marriage was a shambles, and I couldn't find
anything, so I decided to create it. That's what this is, above all
else. In large part, it exists so that people - like Tova, although
her situation isn't my primary target demographic - can know that it
could be worse.
I'm not a pushover, either. I'm still in this marriage for a lot of
reasons. Some of them are fear - of unknowns as well as social stigma
- but some, I like to think, are practicalities. Things like
technicalities of NY and NJ divorce law residency requirements, for
one. Also - sort of practical philosophy - would my life ultimately be
better if I got out? I'm not convinced that it would, and I'm not
ready yet for another blind leap of faith. Here's the problem, you
see: I still believe in Torah and its precepts. I still believe that
there is a higher purpose to my existence than a fulfilling career and
real estate ownership. And if Torah says that higher purpose is having
a family, well, I haven't ever heard any better ideas, so I'll hang on
to that rather than slipping into the oblivion of existentialism. I
have lots of issues with the frum system, and maybe I'll get around to
blogging some of my thoughts on that, but that was never the point of
this blog. This post is only for those of you asking "why hasn't she
thrown in the towel yet?" I haven't thrown in the towel because I
don't judge Judaism by Jews (that's for you, again, Tova), and I care
about my immortal soul more than I care about my pleasure or even
comfort in this world. I might not like everything that frum society
has become, but it represents the closest thing I can find to sharing
my own values.
I'll be okay if I get a divorce; I know that. I'm the one with the
skills and the income, and I can handle not having a husband to come
home to. And if anyone tries to drain me in a divorce settlement, the
kid gloves come right off. Negotiating with tough people is a large
part of my job description. The social stigma will bother me, but I'll
be okay there too, I think. I have enough friends from "fringe"
elements of frum society that I think it won't be held too much
against me. So I think I can be okay. But it's still not something I
want to do, for various reasons. I know some of you think that makes
me weak or indecisive, and you may even be right. But there are lots
of pieces playing in to my choices, and some of them have merit.
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Saturday, April 10, 2010
only am I not doing anything new or growth-oriented, I'm not even
keeping up on the interesting things I used to do. All my energies are
focused on solving an issue that doesn't really seem soluble.
Sex therapy has shifted focus to more normal couple's or relationship
therapy. While it's true that sex is probably not the cause of the
relationship problem, and so the therapist is probably right to shift
the focus, I think that sex is probably the biggest impediment to
being able to move the marriage forward or for us to hang in long
enough to fix the more fundamental problems. After all, every
relationship - every person - has problems, and familiarity can help.
We already know the things that annoy us about each other, and I can
handle most of them: I've been handling them for quite a while now.
But sex and intimacy - those are the things that I can't get over on
my own. Those are the things I need help with resolving. I don't need
to pay $200 an hour to be told about active listening or tolerance for
Is the therapist right that it's not worth it to work on sex without
fixing the relationship? Is she right that learning to understand each
other better is more beneficial? Right now, I'm not convinced that
she's right, but wouldn't I be a fool to pay for her advice and then
to ignore it?
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