Wednesday, May 21, 2014

I'm Just Bleeding, Don't Mind Me

She had said something. Something so hurtful, so emotionally painful, that it was the spiritual equivalent of being stabbed in the gut. As I gasped in shock, she then, smugly and serenely, thoroughly salted the wound.

One the primary difficulties of being single is rarely the fact one is single. Sure, it has its moments of isolation and frustration, but everyone has their own aggravations that it certainly doesn't affect one's cheerful countenance. One can still go about her day, smiling, outgoing, open to all the joys and experiences available on this wondrous planet

But on the inside, there are times when one is clinging to the edge, managing to hold on just by the grips of one's fingers. Then a passing individual, claiming to be the Good Samaritan, refuses to offer a helping hand, but rather decides to sweetly apply a stomping foot to the already overtaxed knuckles.

That's when it sucks to be single: When the support system doesn't only fail one, it shoves one off the cliff.
No one would find it a kind gesture to inform a couple struggling with fertility issues of all the things they are possibly doing "wrong." In personal relationships, one would have to be a supreme cad to insert oneself, uninvited, into a disagreement, claiming he knows exactly what has to be fixed, "just wanting to help."

But if one is single, it is must be that one is behaving like an orangutang on a date. Of course, when I go out for an evening I make use of the opportunity to groom the waitresses for head lice. 

As always, my initial grief after being verbally slugged in the gut morphed into mind-numbing, Godzilla-level rage.


The way this post originally continued was to numerically list all the logical fallacies utilized by my attacker, furiously tapped out with my jaw clenched. 

But then, one Shabbos in shul, my brain activity went into hyperdrive. 

It is a repetitive message of Rabbi Yisroel Reisman that "Bishvi li nivra haolam": "For my sake, this world was created." Meaning, even if one has been shoved into a seemingly "unfair" position, one has to analyze her own behavior. 

For instance, it is a constant aggravation of mine that shul attendees tow along underage children who are incapable of maintaining the necessary silence to permit others meaningful prayer. Usually I would be mentally cursing out the parents as they halfheartedly shush the high-pitched squeaks and squeals of their young. 
But then, that fateful day, I recalled Rabbi Reisman's point. If I did not choose to discipline myself sufficiently to devote true kavana to my davening, why would Hashem provide me with ideal praying surroundings? I have idly daydreamed through many a shacharis; am I deserving of a shriek-free environment? 

From that "aha moment" I leapt to a further conclusion. Whatever pain I experience I have a reason for receiving. I was due a put-down. Ergo, while that individual did not have to volunteer for the job, this psychosomatic agony that aches as I breathe has a purpose

Additionally, I could attack the attacker for her unkindness, carefully parsing away all her groundless arguments, but it would be a fallacy on my part to believe their harsh words was truly about me. She was in a bad place, needed to lash out, and I was there, ready and waiting, a plump chicken to be plucked: An older single who is (obviously) shooting herself in the foot.

Even if I was in an armored mental state when I could have destroyed her conclusions, point by point, in the end, my retorts could never have sufficient debate power until I am armed with the ultimate rebuttal, a groom. 

Silence is my only option. 

Not only silence to accept the Eibishter's Will to suffer this consequence of my transgressions, but silence to know it is not truly about me, and therefore, such stabbing statements require no response. 


Daniel Saunders said...

I guess I'm lucky not to get much in the way of negative comments about being single. (It may be because people around me have some idea of the other issues in my life stopping me even dating.) But I'm wary of describing all suffering as the "consequence of my transgressions". I do that believe suffering has a purpose and stimulates personal growth, but it may not be punishment.

By the way, Google kept trying to stop me opening this post and your blog front page (but not old posts) on the grounds that it contains malware. I thought it was probably being over-sensitive and opened through Internet Explorer, but it occurred to me that maybe it doesn't like one of your pictures in this post and you might want to look in to that (I have only the vaguest ideas of how malware operates let alone is scanned for, so this may be total nonsense, in which case: ignore.)

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a great reminder for dealing with insensitive comments that really, really hurt.

Princess Lea said...

DS: Note I referred to it as a "consequence," not a "punishment." There is a distinct difference.

For instance, last week's parsha contained the tochacha, which describes the cause and effect of abandoning God. It's not pretty. But it's not warning us of punishment; it's relating the consequences. It is simply how the world works: You pour water down your neck, you get wet.

I am quite sure there have been times when I erred and hurt another. I cannot get on my innocence soapbox claiming to be free of any misconduct. "Let he without sin cast the first stone." I can accept the pain, seeing it as a rebuke, and sensitize my tongue. Ergo, the purpose and resultant growth of suffering.

I'll delete the photos from this post, and tell me if that helps. Thanks!

Princess Lea said...

RK: May I have the presence of mind to always remember!

Daniel Saunders said...

Deleting the photos seems to have worked.

I completely understand the difference between consequences and punishments. And we should certainly use our setbacks to examine ourselves and improve. But I do think some things are presented to us as challenges or tests, unrelated to our behaviour. Some people do seem to suffer more than any amount of sins would dictate, even allowing for private sins we can know nothing about. As we read in Pirkei Avot last week, we can't explain the suffering of the righteous or the tranquility of the wicked.

Daniel Saunders said...

By the way, I hope I don't sound overly critical here. It's because I agree with most of what you write that I like to say when I disagree.

Princess Lea said...

Nein, whenever you do comment, you are usually on target. I enjoy that. (As opposed to criticizing just for the heck of it).

Touche. But I am no tzadekes.

I would prefer suffering in the form of a harsh word, rather than, say, harsh living conditions.