Wednesday, November 02, 2005

OTD- What, Now What, So What?

I once had a mentor tell me a no-nonsense self-help approach to gaining a fresh perspective on a problem that is bugging you. He called it "What, Now What, So What?"

Let's take being an off the derech BT/FFB (or an on the fence about being off the derech (hereinafter, "OTD"). Now, you're an OTD BT or OTD FFB or and OTFABOTD BT or FFB, you savvy?

Irrespective of our label, we are confused- how do we deal with this? We had our lives all mapped out at one point and now they aren't so clearly mapped out.

Step 1: The approach is to say "What"- in this case the issue is my future. You have to DECIDE at this point and cannot delay deciding without delaying having any clarity whatsoever.

Step 2: So, let's say you decide to go off completely, you ask yourself "Now what?" This too is critical, especially for married guys. And especially, especially for married guys with kids (like me- too bad step one isn't quite effectuated just yet). Now here's why. I have heard from enough guys that their wives aren't taking too well to this OTD thing. In fact, the wives really don't like limbo. They know they like yiddishkeit for the reasons I postulated in the comments to the first post. The are uncertain about the future. You have to have a plan that is reassuring, yet true to yourself.

Ask yourself, are there compromises you are willing to make that you are sure you can live with? No sense repressing your intellect or true nature and imploding after a month. (See Freud on this one). But for me, I know my wife would be happy with shabbos done "properly." I have no problem with that. She'd like to keep strictly kosher in and out of the home. I'd like some flexibility out of the home, but not mcdonalds. I can work with that. She'd like the kids to go to an OJ school in the community. Hmmmmm, I guess I would in theory, but what happens when they bring the midrashic parsha sheet? Do I go ballistic? Do I shrug? Do I reinforce the lessons, perhaps with gold stars even? But I digress. I'm just keeping with the AA format of self-disclosure... The point is, you have to set these boundries, but you also have to be considerate of your spouse- give him/her a game plan that is positive about the future. You should not just be throwing in the towel. There must have been *some* things you liked about OJ?

Step 3: Now What? At the moment you resolved step 2, you take a look back. Even though it was just seconds ago, think about it- you have resolved a major source of conflict in your life. You feel relieved at the clarity. You feel inspired to carry out your new life's game plan.

Too many of us are on the fence OTF for too long. Life is too short (particularly so for the atheists among us) to wring our hands about what "could have been" or the "good old days."

7 Comments:

Anonymous hayim said...

> You have to DECIDE at this point and cannot delay deciding without delaying having any clarity whatsoever.

Not sure why you would have to decide anything immediately - life-changing decisions usually take a long time.

I do not consider myself OTD (though some of my friends, if informed of my honest beliefs at this point, would certainly call me "on the fence"), but I fail to see what would *have to* change if I decided to become frei. I actually enjoy the frum lifestyle, it's just that I would like OJ to make more sense intellectually speaking.

I don't like cheeseburgers and smoking on Shabbes so much to feel compelled to choose now. Especially since breaking up with the frum community would mean losing most of my friends and relations (for the second time, I guess). Certainly my professional orientation, and similar things, are not affected at all. Keeping this in mind, the question becomes somewhat academic - but it remains a fascinating topic to discuss !

A side point : I understand your dilemma about your family. I guess I am fortunate not to share it, although look at the other side : for people like me, who are still looking for their life partners, there just seems to be nobody out there ! I cannot stand the hogwash I hear constantly from the typical BY girl.

11/02/2005 8:35 AM  
Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

So, let's say you decide to go off completely, you ask yourself "Now what?"

It might be worth considering that what you imagine will happen might be nothing like what actually happens. For the longest time, I couldn't see how life could go on after I left Orthodoxy, but it has. I didn't have a wife or kids though -- that does really complicate things.

I know some Orthodox people who don't believe in it at all but keep up appearances for their families. I think the wives and close friends know what's going on. There's plenty of room in LW Modern Orthodoxy for people like you.

Hayim, if you want a woman who doesn't believe in that stuff, why are you dating BY girls?

11/02/2005 10:07 AM  
Blogger Rebeljew said...

Given this definition, not sure about some issues, not getting meaningfulness out of some practice, down right skeptical on some issues, completely apathetic on large swaths of Jewish landscape ... you would be hard pressed to find a solid "on the derech" baal habayis nowadays.

11/02/2005 10:10 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I actually enjoy the frum lifestyle, it's just that I would like OJ to make more sense intellectually speaking.

Given this definition, not sure about some issues, not getting meaningfulness out of some practice, down right skeptical on some issues, completely apathetic on large swaths of Jewish landscape ... you would be hard pressed to find a solid "on the derech" baal habayis nowadays.

Combining 2 different people's comments...

Exactly. I think I'm both of those - firmly dedicated to frumkeit, but full of Q's. I don't think that that forces me to choose frum or not right this minute (though I choose frum), and I disagree with the 'make an immediate decision' mentality. One can remain frum while they think about it more (as R2J seems to be doing, though I could be mistaken).

11/02/2005 12:30 PM  
Blogger BTA said...

"Not sure why you would have to decide anything immediately - life-changing decisions usually take a long time."

I agree completely. I tried to lay it out as 3 steps. All I was saying was that at Step 2, you get nowhere until the mind is made up. It's self-evident, I know, but some people are uncomfortable on the fence and some aren't.

As for the general thrust of the posts, I guess I'm not OTD either, as I keep up with things. I haven't walked away from it myself, but I keep looking ahead to problems down the line becoming worse.

Also, I am lucky, since I'm married to a very understanding wife. For the unmarried guys, I'd say disclose how you feel or you could end up marrying someone and you both make each other miserable. We had these guests during pesach who were FFB's, married for 1 year, and had a baby. When I went with the husband to shul, the wife was crying to my wife about how miserable they were, how he "lied" to her about his hashgafa and how he wasn't "learned" like her father.

I have no idea what happened with them, but it looked like hell on earth to me.

So- choose your wives carefully, boys, and hold nothing back or you might live to regret it.

11/02/2005 1:19 PM  
Blogger Adam said...

Hi. This is Adam Singer. Please forgive my initial sentiment but, you are a coward for remaining anonymous on a site like this. If you are going to take pot shots at something as big as G-d and Judaism, please have the courage to put your name behind your words.

With that said, I hear truth in what you say and with your concerns, but you seem to have copped out in your quest for truth.

I am not sure why you think Judaism needs to come with a disclaimer. Do you feel that your blog needs a similar disclaimer about the life and spiritual challenges it might present for its readers?

It is true that a dramatic change in lifestyle like becoming a BT can brings challenges you would not have otherwise had, but this is life, religious or irreligous.

It seems irresponsible to blame these challenges, or failures to overcome them on G-d, Judaism, or kiruv Rabbis. A bit like taking on G-d, without using your name.

I would really like to have a dialogue with you, on blog or otherwise. I see truth in some of what you've written and I think we share similar concerns. I am interested to see what new truths we could discover together.

However, I remain puzzled at your hesitance to put your name behind your words.

-Adam

5/27/2007 10:54 AM  
Blogger BTA said...

Hi Adam,

Are you from Machon Shlomo? Your name sounds familiar. However, I don't see what saying your name adds. You could very easily email me at the email provided on the blog. baaltshuvaanon@aol.com

I personally am very publicly open about my views. I have maintained my anonymity because my identity isn't really the point, and b) nothing good can come from it.

For example, let's say someone were to "google" me in a professional context. Now, they might be led to reading my views excoriating religion, when my views are my business.

Moreover, I find orthodox jews are particularly vindictive people and once they could "prove" my identity (many people already know it) they would try to avenge god and defend the honor of their rabbis and religion in some inane way.

I know a former Machon Shlomo alum tried posting my name on my blog several times, anonymously of course.

Look, this blog is a diary made public, but that doesn't mean my identity is relevant at all. And, in fact, because my persona is anonymous, I am free to express myself without perhaps compromising some family member's shidduch chances, or what have you.

Still, many people know who I am. I suppose even you do. I am happy to tell you who I am via email, so email me.

Nothing I say is very original regarding judaism, but it was very therapeutic for me to vent at the times when I did. Hope this helps.

5/28/2007 12:27 AM  

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