Looking Past the Pimples

22 Mar

People are complex. Every single person you have met and will meet in your life, whether it’s your sibling or some guy you met on the train, has a personal reality as staggeringly labyrinthine as the DNA which he is made of. Most of us don’t think like that, of course. Life is too busy. As we get older we have more responsibilities to attend to; more boxes to check off on a never-ending checklist. Checklists make life easier. Everything you need to know is right in front of you. There’s no need to exert your efforts or think too hard. It’s so convenient, it’s addicting. It takes over our minds, discoloring the intricacies of life. The most complicated yet innumerably precious facets of life become dulled. Our eyes weaken, our hearts erode and everything, everyone is understood in the brain-numbing polarities of black and white:

He comes from a poor family.

She has a mentally retarded brother whom her family never speaks of.

He went through a rebellious stage.

Her father is in jail due to tax fraud.

He had cancer when he was 12.

She won’t be able to bare her own children.

His father left and never came back.

Notice how I didn’t give the traditional “don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover” examples. People turn down shidduchim because a prospective shidduch isn’t tall/smart/thin/hairy/charming enough, but I am speaking beyond that point. I am talking about real flaws. I am talking about the flaws that scare people; that make them turn around unsure if they will ever come back. Face it, there are ugly facts of life. Repugnantly ugly facts. People make horrendous mistakes, face onerous challenges and endure inexplicable tragedy. It happens. I don’t mean to say it in a casual manner, but the truth is, these are realities.

There are people in the shidduch world, more than you probably realize, who have such flaws. Sometimes you will know about the matters up front, and sometimes they will not be revealed until later on in the courtship. Whatever the case is, it is very possible that you will date and like someone who has or had any of the above circumstances in his/her life. You have two options when you are introduced to this circumstance:

Look at it as a Flaw:

This is definitely not what you signed up for. You have a list. You have a column of what you need in a spouse and what you don’t need in a spouse, and this would definitely go in the latter category. Yes, you have a good connection with them and he treats you with respect and he holds himself with integrity and has shown that he will be a committed spouse, but you never imagined that you would end up with someone so…flawed. Why did he go off the derech? How will people look at me when they realize I’m the in-law of a criminal? What if the cancer he had comes back? How am I going to have children? It’s just too much to handle so…you walk away.

Look at it as a Pimple:

The Pimple Perspective doesn’t mean you won’t ask the above questions. No one expects you to look at such circumstances and automatically accept them. It’s normal to feel scared and unsure…but when you look at it as a pimple, you’re looking at it through a translucent lens rather than vision blocked by the black and white standards of your checklist. Instead of just seeing another person, you are understanding the person as you understand yourself. You know you’re complex. You know you that no psychologist could ever sum up why you are who you are, think what you think and feel what you feel. Not in your entirety. Everyone has pimples. Some are smaller or less festering than others, but we all have them. They’re painful and unattractive, but they don’t end your life. You live with them. You can even learn to live happily with them. All it really is, is a matter of perspective.

Think about the person who has this pimple. Who is standing before you? Is this a person who let life’s disappointments plunge them into depression? Is this a person who uses his pimples as a pity card? Do you know how hard it is to go out into the dating world, a world convoluted in black and white standards, and give it your all when you know you can be judged instantaneously? All his efforts and struggles to become the most responsible, giving and understanding person he can be, may be swallowed whole by an ominous question mark.

In an instant.

Take that into account. Some people do let their pimples bring them down, but others…they go out into the world and build themselves up. It’s not that they aren’t still hurt, because they are. It’s that not they have no fears. They do. But despite being hurt and despite having fears, they make something of their lives. It’s not given to them. They make it. They choose it. They look past the pimples.

And you can too. It’s not easy but it will make you appreciate life in a way no words can justly describe. It takes:

Knowledge: The knowledge that G-d knows exactly what He’s doing, and that you won’t always understand His ways.

Understanding: You must understand that you will not fully understand what this person has been through.

Courage: The courage to love them anyway.

Wisdom: Knowing that life never gets easier but it can become more meaningful, if you choose for it to be.

Determination: The determination to live a meaningful life.

An Attitude of Gratitude: Because only once you realize just how precious health, family and shalom bayit are will you make it your life’s mission to provide your spouse and children with these three treasures as best as you can.

I’m not telling you to dafka marry someone with such pimples. Marry the person who you can respect, trust and build a life with. Just remember one thing– we all have pimples. Some of us spend our energy trying to conceal them and some of us spend our energy working on a much more important feature– character.

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13 Responses to “Looking Past the Pimples”

  1. Shades of Grey March 23, 2010 at 12:37 am #

    I really like the post, particularly for its message, which is not so prevalent these days.

    However, I have a few points I don’t quite agree with.

    As great as the title sounds, I wouldn’t call these things pimples. Pimples, if you have fairly typical skin (and there are unforunate exceptions of people who suffer consistent with bad skin) go away. These issues don’t ever go away. They are more akin to scars, warts or what have you. Like the small scar I have on the side of my nose from back when I had chicken pox – it’s a little concave dimple missing from the surface of my skin. It’s never going away – not that I really care, but you get the idea.

    Second, as great as it is to be dan l’kaf zechus for people who have such “real” issues/blemishes about them/their family, it isn’t the simplest thing to ignore them and date the person anyway. It is very important, on a case-by-case basis, to properly evaluate whether you, as a unique individual, can handle the baggage that this other person will bring along. This isn’t meant as another slight against those who have personal/familial issues (and everyone has SOMETHING, no one is perfect).

    For example: Is it wrong to avoid dating people who come from divorced homes? Not necessarily. But you must evaluate how this has affected them and if they have grown/matured/recovered from the emotional trauma they suffered. Each person is different. I have one friend whose parents divorced when he was very young, each remarried and have their own families with other children (he’s their only child together). He went through counseling for a long time, but both parents and their families now have a very friendly relationship, and everyone came together to celebrate his wedding last year. Another friend wanted to avoid marrying someone with divorced parents to side-step the delicate family issues that can go along with such in-laws. Yet, he married a girl with divorced parents, and they are quite happy.

    The same goes for people who had eating disorders, family trauma (loss of a parent or sibling, lo aleinu), etc. Nothing is a permanent pgam against any person, but you must know yourself well enough to evaluate if you can handle that sort of emotional/psychological burden/trial in your life. There are very special people out there, such as a couple that one of my rabbeim told me about today. The wife has some disease that has her wheelchair bound as well as physically semi-frozen and mostly immobile (I forget what she has). He married her that way, and they have several children. The husband takes care of her every need and has a wonderful relationship with her (she’s extremely intelligent, which is one of the reason’s he married her). Now this is not a typical example at all – and clearly he’s a huge ba’al chesed to be able to look past her physical disability and love her for the person she is. Most people would avoid such a potential shidduch at all costs, but he is clearly a cut above the rest.

    Anyway, I hope that was semi-clear… great post.

    • coralcap March 23, 2010 at 1:27 am #

      Great comment! It’s almost as long as the post! I totally understand your case for not looking at these circumstances as just “pimples.” I definitely am NOT advocating that people should push themselves into situations they do not feel they can handle. If marrying into a divorced family would cause an individual anguish (and they know that from the get-go) then its understandable that they would want to stay away from that. I see why you would find the word “pimple” unfitting, and I would say that each person has their own gauge of what is just a pimple and what is more. I don’t really have the desire to go into the science of pimples (yuck), but put simply, those with a bad case of acne do get scars. Some people has it worse than others (same with our lots in life).

      I have a feeling this post will get mixed reviews because it does put very serious issues in a much less complicated forum. Everyone is at different levels and will therefore comprehend it on different levels. A pimple doesn’t have to be as drastic as familial issues or death (chas v’shalom). It could even be, So-and-So acted out on his teenage hormones, matured, realized the wrong in what he did and never did such a thing again. What if the innocent, never-talked-to-a-boy-until-now girl he is dating finds this out somehow (gossip, friends trying to protect her, etc.)? I can tell you, I know girls who would be very disturbed by that information and might break it off because of that. It’s not as scarring as divorce, but the repercussions can be equally disappointing. And that is my point ( I see I didn’t get it out so well. Better late than never). Most people have been through something life altering enough to force them t choose to become stronger because of it or to fall in its grasp. Not everyone will get to a level where they can look at these things as simply pimples or scars, but as indicated with the examples of your friend and the man married to the wheelchair bound woman, some people have the patience and ability to see the whole picture (assuming the “picture” isn’t an emotional/mental wreck. I would not advise that anyone committing their lives to trying to “fix” someone).

  2. SIS March 23, 2010 at 2:51 pm #

    Wow. Wow. You just blew me away. You’re brilliant, you know that? And mature and wise beyond your years. I thought you were brilliant just after reading the two options, and then to continue with the list of what it takes just brought that brilliance and awareness to another level. SiBW and I were discussing the other day how blogs have a huge potential to change people’s lives, and I have a feeling that a post like this can really affect worlds. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be mine…

    • coralcap March 23, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

      I’m really honored to hear that you feel my blog has the potential to affect worlds. With Hashem’s help, I hope to write posts that give people chizuk and perspective. I just write what He puts in my head. Blogs do have the potential to affect worlds. You never know when your blog can bring others clarity, serenity or a much needed laugh. But that’s why we keep writing day after day, right?

      • SIS April 7, 2010 at 1:37 pm #

        Well, I don’t think that I personally write for such altruistic reasons. But getting back to the original point, yes, I feel your blog does have that potential, and I think it’s a shame that this post lives on a blog and won’t be seen by too many people. Wish it could make its way to a wider audience somehow…

      • coralcap April 9, 2010 at 12:54 am #

        I’ve tried getting articles of mine about dating published (prior to my blogging days) but they’re too frum for the more “open” publications and not frum enough for the right-wing ones. One day though, maybe. Just gotta keep trying.

  3. harryer than them all April 15, 2010 at 7:41 pm #

    it really depends though on the circumstances of what happened. Everyone has their own “pekkel” and to some dealing with that is just too much to handle.

    Also a pimple is too simplistic an analogy. A pimple may go away if you stop eating fatty foods, if you put on medications etc, while a life-circumstance may stay for a while. I once had a serious relationship with someone and got nervous that she didnt trust me because there was nothing in her life which gives pause, her life was too perfect. No one is perfect, no circumstances are perfect, however it has to be something that you could handle.

    • coralcap April 15, 2010 at 9:05 pm #

      I can understand why you see it as too simplistic an analogy. You’re right, a pimple may go away if someone sticks to a healthier diet and uses the right medication, but some people will still be left with scars. The reason I used the analogy of a pimple is precisely because it can be something small and almost unnoticeable or it can lead to permanent facial scarring. As you said, everyone has their own pekkle.

      This girl you dated really had nothing less than perfect in her life? Wow, lucky girl. Could it be z’chus avos? It definitely has to be something you think you can handle. No need to take on a life that you will one day regret, b/c if you can’t handle it, your kids probably won’t be able to either.

      Thank you for your comments! It’s great to see you on my blog!

      • harryer than them all April 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm #

        well dunno if she was perfect (seemed that way to me in more than one way 😦 ) however my experience is that everyone has something, so my lack of knowledge about it, i attribute to a lack of trust in me for some reason or another

  4. coralcap April 15, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    Wait, you’re saying that you never found out about her pekklach b/c you didn’t trust her? What was it about her that wasn’t trustworthy? Oh and what kind of perfect are we talking about– too good to be true perfect or Stepford Wife* perfect?

    *I can’t think of another label off the top of my head but if you don’t know what a Stepford Wife is, I’ll think of another one.

    • harryer than them all April 15, 2010 at 9:42 pm #

      i did. you misunderstood. she apparently either didn’t trust me or actually didn’t have a pekkel.

      As for stepford wife reference, i wikipedia-ed it (is that a verb? it should be)
      So no, she wasn’t this perfect automaton, but had the main things I was looking for and the important things I was looking for. My reference to having a perfect life was that she had nothing aside for her being slightly less yeshivish than her family (she went to college!) that was a challenge/nisayon in her life.

      maybe i am that open-minded that when she did tell me something i didnt consider it a big deal, but i don’t know. I trusted her with things in my life, small and big- just no reciprocity.

      Btw just discovered your blog today. enjoying it so far, but i think you over-analyse the dating thing. just have fun!

      • coralcap April 16, 2010 at 12:02 am #

        Ah sorry about the misunderstanding. Maybe she’s one of those extremely closed ppl. It’s too bad she didn’t reciprocate your openness.

        Glad to know my blog is being discovered. I won’t deny that I can get over-analytical. Yup, it happens, but ever since I got back from vacation I’ve tried to focus on the lighter side of dating. This particular post was based on something I wrote a few years ago in my journal. The original essay didn’t have to do with dating, but just a way of understanding people in general. I knew this post was bound to get mixed reviews b/c it’s rather extreme, but hey, that’s the beauty of being a blogger. You get to bounce ideas off of other people and gain their insight as well.

  5. SternGrad April 30, 2010 at 9:13 am #

    Wow. This is a really great post. What a great way of looking at things!

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