Sunday, October 2, 2011

Flawed Yet Flawless

Bad4 posted this before I did (showing my conceit that I am the only one in the frum world who gets NY Times) but, what the hey, I decided to post it anyway. 

Sara Eckel's tale in Modern Love gave me quite the boost. 

If one is single by a certain age, many react with "What is wrong with you?" 

Such a statement can be a killer to one's self-esteem. We shrink, internally, as we obsess over the apparent imperfections that ban us from a committed relationship. 

Ms. Eckel was plagued with the same.

She had dates who bluntly stated that since she hadn't had a committed relationship in a long time, therefore, there was something wrong with her.
When my long-ago date asked that question — “What’s wrong with you?” — I was, of course, outraged. I finished my drink, said I had to get up early. But honestly, his question was no worse than the one I asked myself nearly every day. It wasn’t full-blown self-loathing, more a hollowness that hit me in the chest at certain times — a long subway ride home from a mediocre date, a phone conversation with a married friend who suddenly said she has to go, her husband just took the roast out of the oven.
So she entered a quest of repairs. 
A lot of good things happened during my period of constructing Sara 2.0. I went to artists’ colonies, taught storytelling to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, adopted a rescue dog, learned to do a handstand — all under the banner of “Learning to Love My Single Life.” And I made sure everyone knew my life was super-duper awesome with or without a man — my adorable apartment! my fulfilling career! my amazing friends! But I also knew I couldn’t play that card too often, lest the Greek chorus conclude that my well-oiled life left no room for love. As a male friend once told me, “Sometimes you see a woman who has her act together so well that you think, What does she need me for?”

My efforts yielded many friends and filled my calendar with fulfilling activities. I went on Internet dates, speed dates and blind dates. I had great hair and a confident smile.
But I was still alone. And in the dark of Saturday night, I still asked myself, “What’s wrong with me?”
But then she met Mark. And she realized: 
To Mark, I was not a problem to solve, a puzzle that needed working out. I was the girl he was falling in love with, just as I was falling in love with him. 
It's not that there is something wrong with us!
Did we find love because we grew up, got real and worked through our issues? No. We just found the right guys. We found men who love us even though we’re still cranky and neurotic, haven’t got our careers together, and sometimes talk too loudly, drink too much and swear at the television news. We have gray hairs and unfashionable clothes and bad attitudes. They love us, anyway.
What’s wrong with me? Plenty. But that was never the point.