I’m still thinking about dealing with Impostor Syndrome and with other people’s success (two slightly different topics, but related)(also, I tried to link to Ashley’s Impostor Syndrome post when I wrote about it yesterday, but WordPress ate the link somehow — sorry Ashley!).

I want to think, “I’m trying to live according to my values: to support E and my family emotionally; to be kind and empathetic to others; to try to connect with God and Torah; to try to connect with the Jewish community across time and space; to be thoughtful and curious and honest; to be creative sometimes; and to focus on personal growth; and if I don’t always succeed, at least I succeed sometimes.”[1] Still, it is hard to think about that a lot of the time. I don’t really want to be super-rich, but I do worry about how E and I will make ends meet basically relying on one and a bit wages between the two of us, without relying on our parents. And, as I said the other day, part of me would like my opinion to be taken seriously in the Jewish community (or even more widely). I’m not proud of that thought and I don’t really think it’s a good character trait to have, but it’s there.

I hope this feeling might go away. I used to be very caught up in self-pity and that’s reduced (although not entirely vanished) since being diagnosed autistic, getting a permanent job and getting engaged. Maybe the desire to be taken seriously by others will subside at some point too if I can deal with whatever’s prompting it, probably a feeling of not being taken seriously, and even being ignored and bullied, as a child, as well as low self-esteem generally.

[1] Sadly, my biggest failure is probably being kind and empathetic to my parents. I know it’s hard to live with your parents when you’re pushing forty. And I know my parents have their own character traits and issues that make it hard to live with them sometimes, and that sometimes those things are a particularly bad fit with my autistic needs/disabilities. But I still I feel I should do better. I want to say more about this, but I’ve never worked out how to write about the situation without going into lashon hara (improper speech) and dishonouring parents territory. Maybe it will be easier once I move out.

***

I watched a YouTube video of family therapist Elisheva Liss being interviewed by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg and his wife Yocheved. From what Liss said on her weekly newsletter, I thought it would be about narrative therapy. However, I must have misunderstood, as they spoke mainly about shidduchim (the whole system of arranged dating in the Orthodox Jewish world) and marriage. I probably would not have listened to the whole thing if I realised that they would not be talking about narrative therapy.

I used to think I was too defective for the shidduch system to work for me, but maybe it’s more the case that the shidduch system is too defective to work for me. I’m not sure. It’s true that in the end I met E away from the system, and that E would never have been in the system in the first place. And I am aware that most shadchanim (matchmakers) and rabbis would throw their hands up in despair about E and me, with both of us having some ongoing psychological issues, neither of us earning very much money, and both of us on somewhat different religious levels. I do worry about those things a bit, although less so since we got engaged, but ultimately it’s just the two of us in this relationship/marriage and we arguably have skills that many twenty-somethings in the shidduch system don’t have in terms of self-knowledge and values-awareness; knowledge of each other from dating together so long; honest communication; willingness to compromise; and just general maturity. Not that I would say that I am particularly mature, but I have to believe that I can’t have got to (nearly) thirty-nine without picking up some maturity and life-skills I didn’t have at twenty-four. To be honest, E and I both need someone who understands and accepts us, with all our issues, more than we need someone on the same religious level. I know that thinking that probably would not be accepted in much of the frum world, but then it’s probably why I couldn’t find a partner in the frum shidduch-dating world.

***

I did a bit of novel writing today, but I struggled with procrastination. I’ve been writing quite a lot lately and maybe need a break for a day or two (more than just Shabbat). I’d like to finish reading over this chapter first. I thought I would do that today, but E asked me to help her with an important wedding thing that rightly took priority. That left me feeling a bit anxious. We are making progress with this wedding, but sometimes it feels that for every worry we knock on the head, another one emerges. I can’t go into details, but it did remind me of something Rabbi Lord Sacks z”tzl once said, that everyone thinks a moral dilemma is a choice between something right and something wrong, but it’s not; a moral dilemma is a choice between two things that are both right and you can only pick one, or two things that are wrong, but you have to pick one i.e. a situation in which there can be no perfect response. As a perfectionist, this sort of situation makes me anxious and stressed.

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9 thoughts on “How I Broke the Shidduch System

  1. Regarding wedding planning, I would think that the only thing that would absolutely need to happen for the wedding to go right would be for you and E to end up married at the end of it. Anything else that goes well along the way is icing on the cake.

    If most shadchanim would throw up their hands in despair over you and E, that seems like a pretty good indicator the system has problems.

    Wanting one’s opinion taken seriously seems like the kind of thing that would be pretty common for anyone who’s experienced bullying.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Re: wedding planning: sadly because of Jewish law, American law and English law, a lot of other things have to go right to produce the outcome of E and me getting married.

      Re: being taken seriously, you’re probably right.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I married someone who previously tried the shidduch system. My secondhand take is that the system works for a select few people and is a disaster for everyone else. Matchmaking is not an inherently bad idea conceptually, but there are serious flaws in the implementation and execution of the shidduch system.

    But also, the shidduch system is a tool. The goal is to meet the right person to marry. Broken as it is, I can’t imagine that there are shadchanim that would be upset that you ultimately met your bashert outside the system. People are just going to be happy that you’re getting married.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know what the ratio of shidduch system winners to losers is. Certainly it works for some people, but not others.

      You’re right that any non-judgemental, compassionate person would be glad for us, although I don’t know how many people fall into this category.

      Like

  3. Understanding, caring and accepting are the most important in a relationship–in my opinion. It’s trite but true that we can only do the best we can. Sometimes we feel successful and other times like failures.

    Liked by 1 person

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