I was attracting the wrong people into my life. I didn’t know how or why, and I had no idea how to stop it, but they kept coming in to my field of vision, one after the next. I was sitting across from them in coffee shops, bars, hotel lobbies. I was going on long walks with them by the water and eating cheap food at hole-in-the-wall restaurants.
There would always be a moment of clarity. Too far in to date number one, or very early in to date number six, a tiny explosion and subsequent disintegration of whatever narrative I’d created in my mind about a future oneness with this person. And I’d tell myself that it wasn’t me. I was perfect and an absolute diamond just the way I was. I’d tell myself that it was them. After all, they were the ones who were condescending and sexist. They were the ones who were selfish and had a crude tongue. They were the ones who would come late and talk about the waiter once their back was turned. It was them. And it was. They were all those things, undeniably so.
But I had to question how I allowed them to be. How were my friends going on dates with people with whom they conversed smoothly with, but had ultimately decided they weren’t meant to be with, whereas I was dating men whose mere names I’d never want to have anything to do with again, no matter how many times the matchmaker pleaded with me to give them another opportunity to prove themselves.
It seemed that I had been socialized to believe that in the Orthodox dating system, I would be unable to succeed; I would struggle to find someone who would go out with me, never mind marry me. Why would they want a girl who had struggled with her religious beliefs and practices growing up and who came from a divorced home, when they could have a princess who would be the heir to her father’s throne? Why would they want a girl who had been to parties and hadn’t kept Shabbos, when they could have a girl whose greatest sin was that she once went a full week without praying in the morning?
The more I energized the thoughts of why would an upstanding Orthodox man want me, the more I was seeing that bitterness mirrored in the people I was meeting. The more I’d ask for a certain type of man to enter my life, the more I’d meet the embodiment of the opposite.
If I was looking for someone who had his religious beliefs and follow-through stable and down pat, I would wind up looking into the soulless eyes of someone who hadn’t found a moment to pray the morning prayer prior to our dinner date. If I had asked the matchmaker to check to make sure that he wasn’t racist or homophobic, I would wind up taking a lengthy and less than romantic walk with someone who un-ironically rebutted “but her emails” and had MAGA merch in his room. No matter whom I was searching for in that moment, I was receiving the opposite into my circle.
I finally found a therapist who told it to me straight. It was me. I was the problem. I was attracting these people into my life. I believed on such a deep and virtually unreachable level that I would never be wanted by or deserving of the person whom I was looking for, that I couldn’t attract him into my life. And if, by whatever miracle, he was put into my field of vision, I wasn’t even remotely in his. I was so clearly giving off an energy that I wasn’t going to be the right person for him to even spend time with, that he couldn’t and wouldn’t give me the time of day. I was so caught up in my belief that my perfect person wouldn’t find me perfect, that I was, on a deeper and less defined level, pushing the perfect people away.
I had noticed that I had become less relaxed and less giving in my relationships. When I met new people, I would have my guard up in a way that I never had before. I had always prided myself on my ability to be open with everyone, and I found myself looking at my reflection struggling to recall the last time I had been vulnerable with anyone. I realized that I had become closed off to the notion that I was deserving of love because of, and in spite of my past, and I had reached a point where I wasn’t going to allow myself to love or be loved because of the inevitability that it would not work out.
Then I went on a retreat.
At the Hevria retreat, we were pushed to be open and vulnerable. Every moment became a learning experience. Within the first few hours I’d realized that I had finally found what I had been searching for. I couldn’t have been meeting the right people prior, because I hadn’t the slightest idea what they looked like; I had no idea what to look for and how to look for it. I had spent so long being surrounded by people who had been draining, politically unbalanced, and lost, that I hadn’t even a rough sketch of what someone who knew whom they were looked like.
The moment that it hit me, years worth of pent-up emotion flowed freely from my eyes. I sat and looked at everyone, watching as they continued to be authentically themselves, unapologetically incredible and I released the breath I had right then become conscious I had been holding. These people existed. They existed and thrived and lived and loved, and I had been so stuck in this cycle of not believing that they were out there that I began to actually doubt their very presence on this earth.
After the retreat, there was an immediate shift. I began going on dates and investing my energy with those who were objectively self aware with well-developed communication skills. I was noticing that the more I began to absorb that the diamond I was looking for was out there searching for me too, the more precious jewels came into my life. I had sat at that retreat and been open and ready for whatever would be thrown my way – whatever emotional position I’d be asked to dwell in, and that openness shut the door to the closed off and bitter people who had littered my life until that point.
I learned and saw that not only am I worthy, but I am deserving. I deserve to have light, joy, and tranquillity in my life. I deserve to be with someone empathetic, balanced, and at peace with who they were and what they were wanting out of life. I deserve so much more than what I had been receiving up until that point. I deserve the world. And I am finally ready to receive it.