I forget the reasons why they were meant to be apart in this lifetime, but when she asked her tzaddik husband why she merited to be with him again in this lifetime, he said it was because of her determination to be happy.
She insisted on being a happy person despite all her gut-wrenching suffering.
(This doesn't mean she never felt the pain of the abuse and rejection; it means that she picked herself up and strove to be happy despite it.)
Being happy and kind despite the unhappy and unkind people (and lived with) she encountered made her into a great person. She achieved a tikkun which then allowed her to change her original mazal.
Most people don’t think they’re able to be great. Many see themselves as damaged, failed, bad, doomed, or second-rate.
At best, they consider themselves nice people, decent and mediocre.
People who secretly think they’re better than everyone else are considered narcissists.
But great potential is God-given and something to be thankful and glad for, not something to lord over others.
Yet narcissists often also have great potential. Due to profound shame and a feeling of emptiness, they trample their God-given real potential with fake self-defined "greatness."
Utilizing What You Don't Have
It’s also an expectation. You must try to reach that potential because if you have it, then Hashem put you here in order to attain it.
But of course, the path to greatness—as inventors, athletes, and billionaires will tell you—is fraught with falls along the way.
I’ve seen people who grew up in non-nurturing families, ended up with an abusive spouse, and are dealing with their own hurting and rejecting children…and they understandably walk around like they have a knife permanently lodged in their heart.
And there’s no one for them to talk to about all that pain. Even if people are sympathetic, they don’t fully understand what it’s like to endure a lifetime of deprivation with no hope for anything better.
People often have hope even when they grow up in an abusive family. They know they'll leave and they dream of having a better life and of being better people.
And sometimes they get that better life...but sometimes they don't.
While many experts love to blame such people for attracting the wrong spouse or crowd or ideology, or for "repeating patterns" or for being "co-dependent," the truth is that some people are self-aware, knowledgeable of "repeating patterns" and the like and still end up married to a dud.
I even know people who had a great first marriage - mamash a love story - yet when their first spouse died, they ended up in an emotionally abusive second marriage.
What pattern were they repeating?
What "co-dependence" or "negative attraction" were they acting out?
They obviously managed to attract a healthy partner the first time and cultivate an ideal marriage.
So what happened?
Yet even those who end up in challenging marriages still don't give up...at first.
They keep trying, keep striving to find the key to shalom bayit via segulot, therapy, extra investment in the shalom-bayit-associated mitzvot (like taharat hamishpacha, challah, candle-lighting, judging favorably, more "love," etc.), consultation with "experts" and rabbis and rebbetzins...until everything starts blowing up in their face (usually stuff concerning their children).
Suddenly, they wake up to the fact that they've been banging their face against the wall for the past 15-20 years.
And it hurts.
Scaling Your Personal Cliff without Ropes, Crampons, a Harness...and Maybe Even Without Arms or Legs!
Forget about all this “everybody has their own sack of sorrows and if we could see other people’s sorrows, we’d still pick our own…”
It’s not true. (Well, not necessarily...)
Some people objectively have harder lives from beginning to end. They do!
And it’s very, very hard to be happy and to live with emuna in the kind of situation described above.
And it’s understandable if you fall—and even if you fall a lot.
If you don’t have the keilim within you and you don’t have the keilim outside of you, then you’ll find yourself acting out negative behaviors at times even if you don’t want to: depression, sarcasm, yelling, escaping into food or other meaningless stuff, escaping into drugs or other forbidden stuff, rage, black-and-white thinking, attention-seeking, and more.
But that doesn’t mean you are hopeless. You aren’t.
You simply have more challenges designed to help you attain the greatness for which you are destined.
And the only way to deal with everything (and to attain your destined greatness) is to talk stuff out with Hashem.
- thanking Him even when there doesn't seem to be much to be thankful for
- trying to decipher the messages God sends you through the behavior of others even if those messages come with a sting amid the honey
- asking Him to fulfill everything you lack
- keep turning to Hashem even when you're desperate to talk to a "real" person and even though you know that a regular person will let you down and ultimately not give you what you really need and not fully understand you...even if they really want to (simply because they are just as human as you)
Sometimes, Hashem gives you one or two people to whom you can turn and sometimes He doesn't give you anyone.
Or sometimes, He gives you a few people to rely on, then He plucks them away.
And sometimes, He gives you one or two supportive people, but there are certain areas or times in which they just can't give you what you're desperate for.
When Other People Mess with Your Head
Oftentimes, society and other people give you the wrong messages.
They're unable to see you as Hashem sees you, so they disregard your potential.
You may get criticized for the wrong things OR the criticism is correct, but their advice on how to improve is all wrong for you.
Anyway, this is why it's so important to check back with Hashem about any messages you receive.
Only He really knows.
Please see Deprivation: The True Path to Greatness for more on this topic.