ב"ה My wife is not like your ex - What happens when you scratch the nose of the monster

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By: Annie K. (not to be reproduced without permission)

I've heard this so many times, "oh, but seriously, my wife is not like your ex", or "my husband loves me, we just don't believe in the same things anymore" and the most disturbing: "she's a great person, wonderful and kind. She won't turn the kids against me".

A clean break in a marriage with children is nearly impossible. You cannot escape unharmed without losing everything you ever worked for. Granted, in an arranged marriage, you had no idea how the first few children were born. You had no idea that love and intimacy was something that could be achieved. But then, after several years, you and your spouse actually became friends while squeezed together in this domestic arrangement. Chubby cute little babies can do that to you. Running around like a crazy person to make sure everyone is fed and comfortable becomes another distraction to the depravity of your situation.

Small wonder that the monster will not pounce before you scratched its nose.

The monster is the cultural oppression and tribal experience of shame. When you are a third generation holocaust survivor and your parents were raised in harsh PTSD households, you are going to become a person without any identity. Your sole purpose in life is to grow up, do your thing, keep a low profile, and provide for your family. This becomes your role, and thus your sacred mission. Anyone who wants to find out if there is anything else for them to do in life is going to be an immediate outcast.

You grow up and you follow the rules. When you do so, you are handsomely rewarded. People will bring over fresh suppers for your household for the first few weeks after you have a new baby. People will wait for your children's buses if you are running late shopping for groceries. And when you have severe depression, your parents will smuggle you some antidepressants from a Rabbi who has an underground connection to a doctor who has an MD and looks the other way on ethical obligations.

Yes, you belong to a thriving commune, a collection of people united with a common bond: their religion. The trade-off is that you belong to the community, and therefore, your children are their property, and not yours. If you trip up and fail to follow the rules, you no longer have the "privilege" of knowing your children. Yes, you birthed them, and yes, you fed them and clothed them for all these years. But that was not your God-given right. That was a right granted to you by the leaders of the community who deemed you worthy of raising them.

But now, you scratched the nose of the monster. And the growls have become so loud, you must cover your ears. To cover your ears and shield yourself from the bellows, you must remove your hands from your prized possessions. In that process, you lose your grip on everything. Yet you must protect yourself first, before any extensions of yourself. And while you run far away from the monster, your self is safe, but completely alone. Far away from the danger, but far away from any resemblance to your past.

You can break down and cry, or even hope to die. Or you can try something new. You are not dead yet: so welcome to the rest of your life !