If you haven’t read my first post about my headscarf-wearing days, you might want to go back and read it now.
My miscarriage changed a lot of things for me. Let me first explain that the pregnancy was hard-won (we were already dealing with fertility issues, although no specialists had been consulted yet) and that we saw a heartbeat and a perfectly-sized baby on an ultrasound at 7 weeks. Then at 9 weeks I began spotting, and at 10 weeks it was over. Just like that.
I was heartbroken, then angry. Was I angry at God? Yes, but that was just the beginning. My anger at God developed pretty quickly into anger at myself. After all, I was behaving like a spoilt child: “Okay, God, you took away something I really wanted. But I WANT IT! NOW! Fine, I’m just gonna ignore the world and sulk until you GIVE ME A BABY!”
This attitude made me take a long, hard look at my understanding of God. Did I really believe that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people? Did I believe that by loving God and doing the right thing I would ensure that no tragedy would ever befall me? Well, I kind of did, before the miscarriage shattered my illusion of a just world. And that new awareness, the knowledge of how childish my relationship with God was, was just another hole in my little canoe of self-assuredness.
I didn’t stop covering my head right away. But one day I didn’t put anything on my head, and once the pattern was broken it became easy to discard. And I gradually fell into major depression, which made it hard enough to care about anything. Sure, I put on clothes, but only because I had to wear something. I put no thought into it. In fact, having to decide what to wear every morning was enough to stop me in my tracks and make my cry for an hour or two. I just couldn’t handle anything.
I’m not going to chronicle my depression here, or talk too much about my changing understanding of God. Maybe one day I’ll re-post some of those entries from my infertility blog, if there’s interest. But this post is about the headcovering, so moving on…
Once I had stopped covering my head, I noticed that people were treating me differently. Nobody made assumptions about me. Frum women in the grocery store didn’t automatically smile and say “good shabbos” anymore. Our friends once again became comfortable telling “dirty” jokes around me, and people on the street would make pop culture references without immediately apologizing and trying to explain.
Part of me missed, and still misses, wearing long skirts and scarves. But another part just isn’t willing to do it again. The baggage is heavy – I’m not willing to be anyone’s example of what a frum woman is (mostly because I’m not frum). I’m not willing to be treated like I have half a brain, which is pretty much what I got from anyone outside the religious world. And I’m not sure how I feel about on-again-off-again headcovering and modest dress, and yet it would be a necessity for me. No, I’m not going to do my woodworking and work with power tools in a flowing skirt and headscarf. When I go to the beach, I will wear a bathing suit that allows me to actually swim. You can see where I’m going with this.
The other issue, and it’s a serious one that I feel I may never resolve, is about choice in religious observance. I’m well aware of the problem with observing only those mitzvot that make you “feel good” – when they stop feeling good, you stop observing them. It’s kind of hypocritical, isn’t it? On one hand – God commanded us to do certain things. On the other – “this one doesn’t make any sense. What’s the point in doing it?” I don’t have an answer, but the problem is frequently a nagging voice in the back of my mind.
So for now, I only enjoy my skirts and scarves on shabbat, and they give me the feeling of holiness I remember. I still have a drawer overflowing with beautiful scarves, hats, and even snoods. Sometimes I look at them and realize that I really should give them to women who will use them. But somehow, I can’t part with the scarves. I don’t know if I’ll ever wear them again the way I once did, but I just can’t let go.