O ra, barely out of high school, showed up on Retorno’s campus one day asking for help. She had no appointment and no clue whom she needed to speak to. This, together with the distance she traveled to get to Retorno, spoke of her desperation.

We sat outdoors in a small gazebo that faces a tall, rocky hill and, further on, a mountain that seems to kiss the sky. While I was invigorated by the fresh air and the view, Ora slumped on the bench.

Her story was filled with the pain of rejection. Ora never felt like she belonged anywhere. She was sure no one liked her, and equally sure it was her fault because she was unlikable. Her parents, she supposed, tolerated her because they had no choice, but she felt no love, no warmth, no connection. She wanted to get married in order to leave home, but she was certain that no one would want her.

In her eyes, she lacked wit, ambition, and sparkle; she said she had the personality of a doorknob. Isolated from everyone, she turned to alcohol and engaged in several behaviors that went against her values and her Bais Yaakov upbringing.

I looked into Ora’s sad, sad eyes and said, “You’ve suffered so much. Out of desperation you’re doing things that take you out of your pain.”

She looked down at her hands and nodded.

“So maybe it’s time you stopped suffering?”

Tears appeared on her cheeks.

“Look around,” I said. “We have a beautiful campus here. You can figure out why you feel so isolated, and you’ll never have to feel so alone again. We’ll help you—”

She cut me off. “You want me to come here? I came for advice, not to stay here! You guys are supposed to be the experts!”

“The women here will understand you, they’ll love you for who you are, and—”

She bolted to her feet. “I could never… I’d die of embarrassment! And my parents would die of shock!”

I spent several minutes helping her calm down. I explained that inpatient treatment seemed an impossibility to her, but in reality it’s often easier to get clean when away from the temptations and triggers of day-to-day life.

She wouldn’t hear of it.

My next suggestion was outpatient treatment.

“It’s way too far to travel every day,” she protested.

“It’s not every day,” I said. “It’s usually twice a week.”

“Impossible. The travel time… No, impossible.”

“What if you found somewhere closer to live for a few months? It might be good for you to start fresh, and your job prospects would be better in Beit Shemesh or Yerushalayim.”

“I could never explain that to my parents! They want me to start shidduchim already! And I’m totally not ready.”

“What’s your alternative?” I asked. “If you know you’re not ready to get married before dealing with these issues, you think another few months will magically make you ready?”

“Of course not. I just… I can’t tell my parents.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 563)