Dear Mrs. Bluth,
People are very cruel and uncaring. They will say things without any thought of how it sounds to the one being spoken about. I am sick and tired of having people tell me I should lose weight, because I have “such a pretty face,” and if I were thinner some man would be interested in me. I am sick of going to simchas and having people move away because I perspire and heat affects me badly. I can’t stand all those who feel the need to offer advice on what’s missing from my life, what I need to do to improve my self-image and my personality. At forty-five, I have no desire to change or I don’t feel the need to impress. My life is what it is and I refuse to have anyone preach to me on how to better myself. Just now, a woman sitting next to me on the bus told me that she noticed I wasn’t married and that if I would lose some weight and put on make-up, she had a perfect shidduch for me. I looked her straight in the eye and told her to take it up with G-d.
What upsets me most is knowing how angry and reclusive I’ve become. I have even stopped socializing with my family and people at work. I get annoyed and angry even before someone says anything to me, just anticipating that it will be a put-down or stupid suggestion that has to do with my weight, body odor or the fact that I’m single. I stopped going to shul and I go to great lengths to avoid people. But I still can’t find peace. There are times when I’m so lonely and sad and when I look into a mirror I see a broken person. For a fraction of a second, I let my guard down and step out of the vision that everyone else has of me and I see a woman who has suffered much and will die suffering. And I cry.
I don’t know why I’m writing to you except that yours is the first column I read and the only place I ever find someone I can identify with. I also find comfort in the advice you give others and see the value in your words. Are there any words of comfort and solace you can give me so that I might hope to have a day without sadness, loneliness and pain?
How do I begin? What words can I use to reach out to you and tell you how sharply hurtful your letter is, how filled with sadness it made me to see how insensitive and uncaring people have been to you and how ashamed I feel to have to print it. One thing I can tell you is that you are not alone in being cruelly singled out and victimized for being different or for not being what others view as perfect. Only Hashem knows what is perfect, and He made you just as you are.
That said, I would ask you to close your heart and mind to the searing pain and abusive language you have been made to suffer and hear my words, they come from a place of love, compassion and acceptance. You are custom-made, a one-of-a-kind, original work of art created by Hakadosh Baruch Hu and that makes you extraordinarily special, no matter what you look like and what others want you to be. At this moment, you are exactly what you need to be! However, you reached out, in the moment of your deepest pain and loneliness, and I will do my best to help you.
You say that when you look into the mirror, past the visage that stares back at you, you see someone broken and lonely with no hope of attaining any happiness. Perhaps this is the only vision your sadness allows. You have been in a depressed state for a long while, browbeaten by others – including yourself. You need help, supportive, positive and constructive help so that you can entertain other ideas and expectations for yourself and to gain the strength to begin walking on a path that will get you there. Here I can be of help. I know a number of wonderful, caring and patient therapists who deal expressly with what you are going through and have an amazing success rate.
Next time you look into the mirror, I want you to envision a person you would have wanted to be. That’s the person that is locked away inside of you and, with the right help and encouragement, she will come out to lead you into a happy and rewarding life. A life in which you will find your own self worth and value. A life where you will like yourself, be proud of who you are – not because others say so, but because you say so. Please get in touch with me. If for no other reason then just to talk.