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Lifelines: Baggage Check

C. Saphir

Frankly, it’s none of your business. It’s information that I’ll share with the right person, at the right time — which, my rebbeim have advised me, is when a shidduch starts to get serious

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

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OPEN SECRET Now, with the information out there in the hands of strangers, I have no way of ensuring that it remains confidential. I feel as though I have become a reshus harabbim, open season for anyone to find out my most personal and sensitive information and label me passul as a result…

You know the fellow in the yeshivah who’s single and no one can understand why?

The top bochur who gets redt tons of shidduchim, who comes from a nice family, and who has wonderful middos, a great personality, and loads of friends, but still isn’t married?

That’s me. In the two years I’ve been “in the parshah,” I’ve gone out with maybe ten girls. Not for lack of suggestions, mind you — my mother has hundreds of résumés in her shidduch folder. The problem is that I have baggage.

What is it, you’re wondering? That’s precisely the problem. Frankly, it’s none of your business. It’s information that I’ll share with the right person, at the right time — which, my rebbeim have advised me, is when a shidduch starts to get serious. I would never consider marrying someone without telling her this information. But I can’t have the information disclosed before I reach a certain point in a shidduch, because then the shidduch will never get off the ground.

I’ll put it to you bluntly: Would you, or your child, want to marry someone who suffers from depression and anxiety?

I know I wouldn’t, at least if that were all I knew about the person. But if I were to discover this information after meeting a girl several times, when I would be able to see her as a whole person and not as a problem, I would certainly give her the courtesy of researching the issue and consulting with experts before making my decision.

I can’t say I’ve received that courtesy, even though my condition has been under control for several years and I know how to manage it effectively. I pushed off starting shidduchim until my rebbeim, my therapist, and I were confident that I was ready to get married. I’ve been to therapy, I’m on a good, stable medication regimen, and I am a fully functioning adult leading a successful life. As I mentioned, I’m considered a top bochur — I repeat that not out of arrogance, but because the words “depression” and “anxiety” have a way of clouding people’s perception of me (as well as my perception of myself).

Once, I got up to a fifth date with a wonderful girl. The date was going really well, and I thought we had turned the corner in our relationship. “I never had a shidduch that went this far,” she told me, her voice tinged with excitement.

During that date, we went out to a restaurant, where we talked about the foundations we wanted to build our home upon. At one point, she noticed that I seemed uncomfortable. “Is everything okay?” she asked.

“Uh, yes,” I stammered. Then, I excused myself and went to the restroom, where I faced myself in the mirror, gave myself a big smile, and said, “Okay, Chaim, here we go!”

I proceeded back to our table, my insides quaking. I had prepared an index card with notes to remind myself of all of the points I wanted to convey, and when I sat back down, I took out the card and said, “There’s something I’d like to tell you.”

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