“I never would have known!”
What a thrill I feel every time I hear it. But as Rabbi Greenman so movingly describes, how healthy is it to want to “pass”?
Like all of you, I’ve explored so many stages of BT-hood; found the truth beyond those early idealized visions of the frum world. The amazement and longing that lured us to this world have matured into a grounding of understanding, regret, flashes of cynicism, and…moments of amazement and longing. Rather than suffer a damaged self-image (as warned by Rabbi Greenman) by not wearing my journey on my sleeve, I’m proud I’ve found a comfort zone: I’m proud that my instincts and impulses are frum ones.
This isn’t selling myself out. I can’t exorcise the 27 secular years; I acknowledge that the lyrics of any 70s song come to mind perfectly but I still stumble on the most-often repeated tefillos. In fact, I could definitely live more fully within the frum world but realize that I’d feel suffocated without private moments with the internet or newspapers or secular music.
Why not desire assimilation? I’m not hiding my past from my kids (how could I with defiantly secular relatives lurking in the wings)–but what about my previous incarnation is worth flaunting? The ease of pulling into the ubiquitous McDonald’s drive-through and ordering delicious treif foods? The comfort of pants and uncovered hair? What’s wrong with stifling the “true” me in the pursuit of being the me I want to be?
The time will come when I face the moment of truth, when I can no longer bury my past behind the decades spent braiding homemade challahs, clipping someone else’s hair atop my own, and holding myself in when my students say, “I’m staying BY my friend’s house for Shabbos.” Then I’ll be judged on the real me, as I join the chorus of FFBs complaining, “Making a shidduch for your kids is the worst!”