Coming Full Circle

tova and shua

Facebook is all about celebration. We see each other’s seemingly perfect lives. The pictures of birthdays, Broadway musicals, picnics, weddings, graduations, perfectly baked challah, paint nights,  and reunions neglect to acknowledge that these Kodak moments are only a fragment of our stories. We leave out the heartbreak, the failures, the disappointments, and post only our highlights. I know I’m always happy for people when they post their golden moments, but on more than one occasion I’ve questioned why things weren’t so happy for me, why life seemed so hard. The worst is the residual subconscious thought, “Is something wrong with me? Am I not enough? Is my life not enough?”

Throughout dating and engagement, I kept things quiet. I didn’t even change my profile picture after Shua proposed. I thought this was being sensitive to others who are longing for love. I was also hesitant to share my experience because I am afraid of posting anything imperfect. Regardless of the motivation, I recognize that there’s a generosity in sharing my joy and my story with others. It’s bright and inspiring. It’s a gift. So I’ll share a small gift with you.

But first, I think the gift we all need from each other on Facebook is a full picture.

Today, I will be marrying the man of my dreams. He’s the person I wanted in every single respect. But five years ago I didn’t believe this was possible. I didn’t know I would match with someone religiously, musically, financially, intellectually, philosophically, recreationally, etc. I thought if I was lucky enough to have someone love me, and to love him back, that would be enough. So when a nice and hardworking young man asked to marry me, I said yes. I put aside our differences though there were so many and it was unfair to both of us. I told myself I would be happy and that it would work out. I told myself I could live more of his halachic understanding, than mine. I told myself I would have friends to fill in the gaps that he couldn’t fill. But the gaps grew farther and farther and I knew I would never be able to be fully authentic. This wore down the relationship and we were disconnecting.

But I held on: half of me hoping he would let go, half of me too scared I would never find love again and hanging on to whatever piece of the love pie I got.

Then he let go. And I was devastated.

The night before the broken engagement, we went to a restaurant with a friend of his. We ordered Sesame Chicken and Pad Tai. I felt like a third wheel with my then fiancé. I couldn’t eat, and the food we had that night later became a trigger for me. It would bring back the intensity of how alone and afraid to leave I felt.

The next morning he broke up with me. Even though it was what I knew I needed, and half wanted and it was so painful.

What followed was a dark time.

But in the darkness, I had the privacy to look at who I was without anyone looking at me. In the still of devastation, I could think about who I was and who I wanted to be.

What I realized was that I didn’t need to fit the expectations of others for acceptance. On the contrary, I learned that the people who love me the most, my family and closest friends, were expecting me to be true to myself and would accept me.

So slowly I started to give myself allowances to be true to myself. This process included a lot of trial and error, rebellion, forgiveness, falling, brushing off the dust, and standing up tall again. It was simultaneously exhausting and painful while liberating and exhilarating. I slid back and forth and oscillated from extremes. I beat myself up for my inconsistency and embraced it. I was, and still am, a walking contradiction. But this process taught me that acceptance of this inevitable swing we call life, makes learning far more enjoyable.

I became who I wanted to be. And then dated and dated and dated as I waited for Shua. And that wait held so much more loneliness and heartbreak than I knew I could bear. But that same sadness taught me the extent of ability and desire to love.

I have plenty to say about dating. In a nutshell, even after making the mistake of accepting the love of someone who didn’t match well enough, I continued to do this, under the belief that someone is better than no one. About two years ago I internalized that saying no to the wrong person means making myself available to the right person. I had to learn how fully to experience my loneliness and to yearn for my soulmate. This allowed me to manage the fear of being alone and be more selective while dating. I became more active. I did the breaking up. I said no when I didn’t want to meet someone for a 2nd date, or even for a first date. I became even more honest and bold.

And then something magical happened. HaShem decided it was time and I met Shua, my soulmate, my confidant, my husband starting today. Dating him was easy. Our lifestyles and world views matched. We enjoy all our time together. It was a pleasure and I was confident I wanted to be with him. He treated me with respect and love. I felt the way dreamed of feeling in a relationship. I was my best self with him and we felt mutually supported by each other. Everything I dreamed of. Literally.

Recently we went for dinner to the same restaurant I went to years before. We sat together eating Sesame Chicken and Pad Thai, happy, perfectly suited, and over the moon.

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Tova Lahasky graduated from Stern College for Women with a degree in medical illustration. After spending time as an art teacher and account manager Tova is focusing on expanding her fine arts & graphic design business and birth doula service. She loves her life with her dog Joybee in Washington Heights and is grateful for all of the wonderful opportunities that reveal themselves with a hopeful heart. Reach out to her at Check out her links: