Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Dear Mrs. Bluth,

I don’t understand the transformation of your column from helping agunos to one that answers every mundane problem under the sun.  Have you forgotten your commitment to those women who first gave you your literary platform?  Do you assume that the agunah problem has been miraculously resolved?  I, for one, can tell you that there is still one agunah deep in the throws of pain and agony. I have been unable to obtain a get from Bais Din and cannot afford to pursue a secular divorce because I have no money for an attorney.  Can I still approach you for help in this area now that you have ventured off into other areas of human misfortune?

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I have been married to the most evil man for over fifty years. He hates me and has poisoned my children against me. I have been forced to live in a small space in our basement where it is cold in the winter and hot in the summer; there is little daylight and ventilation. The few items of clothing I own smell from the dampness and oil fumes and I have developed a chronic cough. I have a job that pays me enough for food and the little incidentals I need to maintain my hygiene and health, such as it is.  I have no friends and even if I did, I could never bring anyone in to my small space.  My children and grandchildren come by to see their father and at those times I am forbidden to come upstairs because they don’t want to see me.  They blame me for making my husband’s life miserable and believe that he is a malach for giving me shelter and not throwing me out on the street for what I did to him, and them.

A long while back, when we went for family counseling, the said I was controlling and made their lives miserable. They said I didn’t allow them to go out with friends after school, buy their own clothes and even go out on dates when they came of age.

Mrs. Bluth, I did this out of love. I didn’t want them to suffer the consequences of making the same mistakes that I made.  For this they hate me.

They told the therapist that I constantly called my husband at work, and checked up on him when he went to out-of-town meetings because I didn’t want him to stray and destroy our family. For this I am considered a witch and a crazy person.

They claim that I couldn’t get along with anyone and picked fights with the neighbors, who avoid me but still invite my husband over for Shabbos meals.  In truth, it was these neighbors who often picked fights with me, making snide comments and speaking lashon hara about me.

I have come to terms with my lonely life and will live out the rest of my days alone in my small space.  I don’t care about anyone, not my husband, not my children or grandchildren who have cast me aside like a rotten fruit.  Who needs any of them? The therapist told me I was to blame for my situation because I couldn’t and wouldn’t make the effort to go for help for my deep-rooted issues. Well, I have no issues.  Clearly my family succeeded in turning the therapist against me. So I stopped going to see her, while they continued to go.

I don’t know what there is to do for me, but I thought I’d just write in and see what you had to say.  That is if you’ll answer.

 

Dear Friend,

I read and re-read your letter, and what comes between the lines is a person who is very troubled and has chosen to cut herself off from everyone near and dear to her. She would rather live in denial and blame others for what is wrong with her. What amazes me is that you are able to hold down a job without alienating anyone.

One thing is blatantly clear, you are in dire need of psychiatric help.  Until you realize that you are the architect of your own downfall, there is little I can offer you in the way of advice.  You have succeeded in casting out al those who once wished to have you in their lives and made your own prison.

In defense of this column, our decision to include any difficulty that requires addressing, it by no means excludes the plight of the agunos.  The hardships and pain that encompasses their world is still very much in evidence and their letters appear in this space along with those from others who have life altering issues that need attention.   I can only say that I truly feel badly for you that you cannot see past your own concerns and feel empathy for the anguish of others.  But that, too, is a marker of your ailment.  You have no compassion for anyone but yourself and that makes you unable to relate to others, most notably your husband, children and grandchildren.  You would rather sever your relationship with them than go for help and make the effort to find your way back to them.

You accuse me of not caring, you are wrong.  Sometimes the truth hurts, but it is not meant to cause you more pain.  In truth, al we want it to get you the help you so desperately need.  Even if, chas veshalom, therapy does not heal the deep scars in your family, it will offer menuchas hanefesh for your personal pain and give you the ability to find some comfort.  Please call me for resources as I have no way to reach you.  There is till time for you to find peace, comfort and friendship.

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