Taking The Chance
I cried in shul on Rosh Hashanah. The prayers were so beautiful and I felt so awed by Hashem and His power. And so scared and guilty. Because I am faced with an opportunity to do something that I believe is a sin and I know deep down that I am going to do it. I hardly feel like I have a choice about it. The thought of not kissing this man at the next opportunity is hardly crossing my mind. Yet also even when I feel the most scared and the most guilty I feel very deep down how much Hashem loves me and that everything from Him is a gift. Even this opportunity to sin is a gift. Hashem knows how starved I am and he has put a plate of non-kosher food in front of me. He is giving me an opportunity to nourish myself and I feel deep down that He is saying “do not worry about what is in the food. Just eat and take care of yourself.” I am about to disobey Him but I feel that He is a loving father.
I am worried that some people will read the last paragraph and mistake my thoughts for something else. Something that I am definitely not thinking is “God will understand.” Not the way people usually use that rationalization anyway. Usually when people (including me) say “God will understand” they just mean “There is something I want right now and I will not let my own guilt stand in the way of taking what I want.” They say “I do not feel like waiting another hour before I eat milk, even though I am still fleishik, God will understand,” or “I am really tired and do not feel like walking to shule right now, God will understand.” Sometimes I think that God must look at us and be thinking “Yes I understand that you are a bunch of lazy bums!”
Anyway I guess in a way I am saying “God will understand” but this is after many many days of deep reflection and crying and of course all the months of doing this blog and all the time before that that I was suffering from deep depression. I know that everyone who sins feels at the time that they are in a special situation somehow and that when they do this wrong thing, for them it is not wrong. Thinking that does not make it right of course. But since this is my blog I can only explain how I feel about it. I think that if I do not take the opportunity to kiss with my new boyfriend (do people use the word boyfriend when they are 35 years old???) then I will be like the proverbial person in the flood who refuses to get in a boat because “God will save him” and then refuses to get into a plane because “God will save him,” and when he drowns and goes to Heaven, he says “God, why didn’t you save me?” and God says “I sent you a boat and a plane and you didn’t take them!” For so long I have been saying that I would not be Shomer Negiah anymore if only a good man came along who I liked and was attracted to and who liked me and was attracted to me. I have cried to Hashem because I am so so lonely and physically starved. I have written here that I would give up food if only a nice, religious, intelligent man would put his arms around me and tell me he loves me. I do not think this boyfriend loves me (yet), but he does like me a lot. If I give up my opportunity when it comes then it means . . . well I do not know what it would mean because I simply cannot imagine letting this opportunity go by.
I know it is possible that this relationship will not end in marriage. You have read about my dating history. I know very well that things can suddenly change quickly. If I kiss him and then we break up I am sure I will feel very bad. But the idea of breaking up and not having kissed him, letting the chance go by, makes me feel even worse, because considering what the dating scene is like these days it may be many years before I find another man who I “click” with. It might never happen at all.
If in another 40 or 50 years I am on my deathbed and I am still single and still a virgin, I would rather have memories of kissing a boyfriend when I was 35 even if we later broke up, then to have no memories of kissing anyone at all and know that I could have done it once but I let the chance go by and now I will never know what it feels like.
I know I should wait a little bit before going ahead, maybe date him a little longer. The ironic part of this is that I do not want to wait because I am not sure enough about our relationship that I really believe we will definitely stay together long enough. I might not have the luxury of taking my time to make a decision. Men have a tendency to end relationships for little or no reason. I hope this one is different but who really knows. This is not an ideal situation. Once again I do not have good choices. I can kiss him now and maybe we will break up or I can wait and then maybe we will break up. There are no guarantees. But to me the lesser of two evils is, if we are going to break up, I want to know at least what it is like to kiss. I am tired of feeling pathetic about myself. The curiosity and emotional and physical brutalness of being Shomer Negiah are killing me from the inside. I wish I knew for sure that this was the right man. But in reality all I can say is that he is a good man at the right time. I will take what I can get. Yes that sounds desperate but you have read my blog, I have every reason to be desperate!
I know that some of you are thinking “do not waste your precious first kiss on someone when you are not sure how strongly he feels about you, after all the time you have waited. Do not let your efforts go to waste!”
I think in particular the commenter named ClooJew will be thinking this. I have appreciated his comments very much. He has articulated many things that I have been thinking myself and many things I believe or at least used to believe for myself. Ironically he himself (I think ClooJew is male but my apologies if that is wrong) gave me the way to articulate why I think that argument is wrong. He wrote “(the position of many commenters here), is that unhappiness is a good reason to abandon one's faith and system of observance. That position belittles all the effort and pain that NJG has gone through all these years. I'm here to support and admire NJG for her faith, her past, her toil, and her standing tall in the face of adversity.”
That comment meant so much to me that it brought tears to my eyes. To have a frum person recognize that I have worked so hard to uphold my values means a lot. And it means a lot to have someone acknowledge that I have done something hard, something so difficult that not so many other people manage to do it. I forget that myself often. It is easy for me to feel pathetic, like I am some kind of loser because I have never been kissed, and ClooJew reminded me that I am not a loser. I am a Jew. It is something to be proud of. And up until now I have managed to work very hard at being a Jew.
But the past that ClooJew admires is the past. I am not the same person I was even two or three years ago. I have been so depressed, so very very sad. My faith might be as strong as it was but my strength is not and my ability to toil at it is not. This is the part that I feel deep down Hashem “understands.” I feel like a little child in Hashem’s arms. I know that He understands my innermost heart and loves me and will continue to love me even though I am weak. I am not a teenager in rebellion, trying to “get away” with something. I am a little girl who has been through too much, and Hashem is rocking me and saying “it’s all right, it’s all right.”
If I give up an opportunity to be held and kissed and reminded that I am a woman, only so that I do not “waste” my efforts of the past, then I will be hurting my present for the sake of honoring my past. I cannot do that and stay whole anymore. I am different now and my needs are different. Each day we make choices based on who we are at that time.
And also, no matter what I do now my past will never be “wasted.” Most single people no matter how observant they are in Judaism do not make it to 35 while still being Shomer Negiah for all intents and purposes. The past that ClooJew is admiring will always be my past and will always be admirable from the point of view of halachik Judaism, no matter what I do in the future. Keeping halacha is never a waste.
But this is a halacha that I just do not have it in me to keep anymore. I simply cannot do it. I love halachic Judaism so very very much but this is one area where my strength is failing me and it is simply impossible for me to go on this way.
I wrote in the comments something I want to repeat here: “I think there are maybe people who read this blog and want me to represent the halachik lifestyle. They want me to wait until I get married before kissing because they want to believe that it can be done, by someone. They would like to believe that someone in the world is holy enough to keep this halacha even for years and years because knowing that would inspire them to try a little harder with their own halachik tests.
I cannot promise to be a poster child for Shomer Negiah. I do not think I am strong enough. I am sorry. Very sorry. I just do not have it in me anymore. For so long I have been valiant but now I think it is time for someone else to be the poster child because I am not strong enough right now.”
This is not the best reason to engage in my first kiss, I know that. I am disappointing many readers but more importantly I am disappointing myself a little bit. I really did want to wait until I was married or at least until I was more sure of the relationship. But this is the chance I have, and I will take it. This is a very special man who is very good to me. I am scared but also very excited. This must be the way a person feels when they go parachuting for the first time and they are about to jump out of the plane! I am not 100 percent sure that the parachute will open but I will enjoy the view while I have the chance.