No Barriers Allowed

Sitting on the cold bathroom tiles, I’m clutching my knees. There are marks where my clipped fingernails have dug into my skin. I shiver because I am stripped bare. I shake because my heart feels raw. Tears fall freely down my naked face. All makeup scrubbed off carefully, all body hair shaved away. Chatzitzah, chatzitzah!

I’ve gone over my body a hundred times, checking each part again and again. Is that a stray hair? Shave again. Is that a scab? Soak it again. CHATZITZAH!

No barriers. No boundaries. Nothing except you and the water. That’s how it should be.

Wait, did I clean out my ear with a q-tip? Wait, did I trim that teeny tiny hangnail? Wait, do I need to use the bathroom for the fifth time?

Some women obsessively check themselves because they anxiously want to do it right. I do it because I hope I find a reason not to immerse tonight.

No barriers. No boundaries.

But my marriage is fully of barriers and boundaries. I’m alone and lost. I can’t handle this night. I know after I dip in the warm water, I will return to my own version of Gehenom. I will return to a husband who won’t be intimate with me, doesn’t love me, doesn’t want me. I will return to all my problems, plus new ones. Now, we will share a bed (no barriers) and he will brush against me when I don’t want it (no boundaries). There will be nothing but him and me. And my barriers that I cannot drop.

So, when I take a little longer to prepare, don’t be surprised. When you wish me a goodnight afterwards and I don’t reply, it’s because my throat is too tight. It will not be a good night. It will be lonely and sad. Because while some women go home from the mikvah excited to reunite with their love, I will be going home counting down the days until I will be niddah again.

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  1. Deborah June 7, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Oh my dear. I am so sorry. If there is no way this marriage will be a good one, can you find the wherewithal to move on? Everyone deserves to find a truly loving marriage with a partner who loves them.

  2. Anonymous June 7, 2017 at 10:53 am

    I am so, so sorry for your sadness. I used to live in the very same version of hell.

  3. Anonymous June 7, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Now, we will share a bed (no barriers) and he will brush against me when I don’t want it (no boundaries)


    1. 900windows June 24, 2017 at 2:47 am

      No need for criticism…..try compassion……words can be hard to find, or can mean different things to different people…..

  4. Shaina June 12, 2017 at 2:43 am

    Your piece is so sad and haunting. I hope things get better for you, somehow. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Fellow traveller June 16, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    “And my barriers that I cannot drop.” I’m not sure that I understood this.

    But, I’d like to share that you do have choices. You can make decisions to help and protect yourself. If you want the help to do so, there is help out there.

    And there is hope too!

  6. Esther July 24, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    My dear,
    Today’s time has a distinct characteristic that is only applicable to this time. It’s the so-called Zeit Geist – the Spirit of Time. And this characteristic is THE FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Today, unlike during any time in history, we can and MUST learn to exercise our choices. We must KNOW that we CAN. We must HEAR it from others. We are not victims of the doings of others. We can say NO and create boundaries and separation. We CAN be with the person we want to be. We are NOT slaves. We are FREE people, and EACH one of us is unique and HAS the responsibility to SHINE its brightest. Ask HASHEM to grant you the STRENGTH and COURAGE to SHINE!

  7. Tzivia G March 11, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    This must be a nightmare for you. While there is help out there for you, there is still a huge stigma surrounding divorce in the orthodox community. The fear of being a “shonda” to the community you have identified with can be scarry and consuming. Even though you are in such pain, I can see why you have stayed for so long. As someone who has left the orthodox community and recieved the lable of “shonda”, it was extremely hurtful as I was the same person they had embraced for so long. However, the pain does fade wether you choose to stay in the orthodox community or leave after getting the help you need. It will make you a stronger version of yourself. Your mental and physical health are far more important than the opinions of others. Hashem says so himself. I truely wish the best for you in whichever path you choose.

  8. Anonymous September 3, 2019 at 9:24 am

    I used to be suicidal every time I went to Mikva, fantasizing about drowning. I understand how you feel, but you can say no. You own your body. No one else does. It took me many years to learn that and I still struggle but I can say no. And I do.


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