Dear Dr. Yael,
I’m really not sure if you can help me but I’m feeling so helpless lately and I’m too embarrassed to turn to anyone I know, since that’ll probably exacerbate the problem.
I’m an avid reader. I read everything from novels to newspaper articles and I’m well aware of the shidduch crisis, and now I’m really scared of how it’ll affect me. I’m an eleventh grader in a Bais Yaakov type school. I was never a great student – so I was never exactly the “teacher’s pet,” but I was never a trouble maker either. I had friends here and there, but was never part of the popular cliques. I always felt a little bit like a “nebuch” case. My father who tries to seem like a “chashuv” person to the outside world could never hold down a normal job, so money has always been scarce. (He would only take certain kinds of jobs and those jobs didn’t pay much.) He was also strict about allowing me to go places with friends and even if he would’ve permitted me, I didn’t have the money to spend like they did. I’ve always been kind of embarrassed to bring friends to my house because of the “nebuchy” way my house looks and also because of the way my parents act when they are together – arguing with each other or ignoring each other. So things were never too great for me. But a few months ago things got even worse.
My mother gave birth to a baby who I knew right away was born unhealthy but I didn’t realize to what extent. He has a certain genetic disease which, for obvious reasons, I can’t mention what it is. I don’t have this disease (it’s noticeable when someone has it, that they are unwell). I was tested and I’m not a carrier either. But now I’m getting very worried about shidduchim. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve read all the articles about the “shidduch crisis” and how hard it is for girls. Until now things were tough for me – not a great student, not a popular girl, not a wealthy or classy house, not an especially respectful family – I wasn’t exactly a great catch, but now it feels even more hopeless.
Why would someone want to marry me? Why would they take their chances with a girl who has all this baggage when there are so many others around who are more eligible? I’m ashamed to admit that sometimes I feel angry at Hashem. Why does Hashem do these things to people? I was never a bad person, so why do I have to have so many problems?
Please don’t tell me to speak to someone in school or to go for therapy. It’s out of the question. Also, please don’t tell me to read “mussar” books or these self-help books. Like I told you, I read a lot, but I find that these “mussar” and self-help books are very preachy and only help me for a day or two after I read them, but then when something actually happens that upsets me, I forget everything I read and I get that same frustrated feeling of why can’t anything ever work out well for me. Do you think there is any possible way for me to be helped with these hopeless feelings about the future without risking my privacy?
A “neb” who wishes she wasn’t
First of all, you are NOT a neb. You have no control over the family and the specific challenges you are given. When one traverses the journey of life, one will stumble upon challenges, some more difficult than others. Often, one will view herself as someone with “baggage” or as a “neb” because of her situation. Everyone comes into this world with a Divine plan along with her or his own individual challenges and accompanying this is his/her Divine prescription. Just as a doctor will not prescribe the same eyeglasses for everyone, so too, in life we are all given different prescription eyeglasses. That is why it is erroneous to constantly compare one’s life’s circumstances to others. You were given what was best for your soul to develop fully.
Certainly, life has been difficult for you. You have been compelled to face challenges and you fear for your future. But it is not hopeless. We all know that forty days before one is conceived a “bas kol” from Heaven declares their destined mate. Perhaps you’ve been put into the position you are in, in order for you to be accepting of whomever it was that was destined for you – someone who is terrific but whom you might not have considered if you did not have to face your individual challenges.
As far as people being afraid of passing on a genetic disease, please realize that the wonderful organization of Dor Yeshorim could help you with that. A quality person won’t refuse to meet you if Dor Yeshorim could alleviate their fears of hereditary diseases. And if someone does refuse to meet you because of your brother’s disease or because your home is not “classy” or wealthy, then that individual was not meant for you. It is important to be aware that although life might seem perfect for others, we never know what others are dealing with and many of life’s circumstances can be viewed negatively or positively.
I know you did not want a recommendation for a book, but I would recommend that you read a book called “Set Me Free” by Estie Florans, where these problems of low self-esteem, comparisons, challenges and one’s relationship with G-d are addressed in a beautiful manner that is easy to read. Hatzlacha!