I couldn't imagine how this could happen to me. It had been my life's aspiration to be a Rosh Yeshiva, to be a tzadik. I had been doing everything right. I kept halacha, I davened well. I learned well. I always thought it was odd when I'd see boys who had gone off the derech. I felt good. I knew it would never happen to me. I had the right way and I was happy. How can all this happen without my being willing? This seems to be the worst curse imaginable. I must leave my people. I must leave all that has been dear to me. It hurts too much. I don't know how this happened but I must go. My shoulders were pinching and their pain was only symptomatic of the intense pressure I had been putting myself under. I just had to learn as much as I could. Yes of course I enjoyed it. Enjoyed what? It was exciting. It was a challenge. With each piece of gemara that I mastered I imagined that when asked about it, I shall not be confused, I shall immediately answer and will thereby be lifted up in the eyes of the asker. Yes I had a very bad self image. I needed to learn so badly. Yes of course I enjoyed it too but because I needed it, I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I was in a rush. I had to get as much of this into my head as I could. What would my father in law say? I needed to make sure that when the time came for a shidduch, it would be smooth. I needed sex and I needed it yesterday. I couldn't afford the possibility that my future in laws would give any thought as to whether they wanted me in their family or not. "Look at his midos" they would say. " He's such a masmid". The deal is done. No I can't say that I gave much thought as to whether they were good people or not, what I would do for a living. Wait! But that's a lie. I gave it plenty of thought. I was quite worried about how I would make money. How would I support my family. It got me so nervous that I tried not to think about it. Instead I tried to build my faith in God that things would go well. Of course it felt odd. I was building my faith but I was so afraid to do anything. Something in me told me that I am just too afraid. I didn't know anything was wrong because I had always been afraid. I didn't remember knowing anything else but since as I got older, there were increasingly larger and more important opportunities that I beckoned my participation, I became sadder and angrier as I said no to each one. No, I just didn't know why I couldn't do it. I didn't know why I could play, I didn't know why I couldn't participate in sports, I didn't know why I was too embarrassed to lead the davening, but I did know that couldn't. I knew that i had made a solemn and irrevocable promise not to ever do anything in the public eye. Unfortunately, this promise would not stay still. It just didn't let me sleep, it didn't let me live, it wanted to kill me. My heart begged itself to revoke this promise. I want to play. I so badly want to play. I don't know why I can't but I still want to. I wish could learn. Everyone seems to be having so much fun. I also want to have fun. Why can't I?
I watched my friends lead the davening. I felt my heart surge. I want to lead too. I knew that I had a good voice. I knew that I loved music. I love to sing. Why can't I lead? I'll never forget that one of my best friends Shlomo, who could barely carry a tune, let the davening on Rosh Chodesh. I was so jealous. How can he do that and feel so comfortable with himself and I am better but can't bring myself to do it. I realized with his davening that was in serious trouble. Something was the matter with me. How will I ever be me if I can't bring myself to do the things I love to do. What will it take? How will it happen? I couldnt' forsee anything happening that would bring change to the current situation. It was almost as if I knew that I was the one who would have to repeal the promise. I would have to risk. I would have to act and since there was no way in hell that I would, I was stuck. I knew I was doomed. For years, I hoped that someone would see my pain and force me to lead davening or play so that I would not have to feel that it was me. If it was me that I had a lot at stake. Any mistake would point to me. There was nowhere else to look. I couldn't afford to have people look at me. Those days were over. I had been looked at way too many times. Those days were gone. I would need to find a life where I wan't looked at, so I kept looking for a place where I could hide and all would be ok.