My Quiet Inner Voice

As a child growing up in an Ultra-Orthodox Jewish home, my life was predictable.

I knew which food I was allowed to eat and which clothing I was permitted to wear.

From the time I was three, my skirts needed to cover my knees and my sleeves had to cover my elbows. When I was nine years old, my stockings had to cover my knees so nary a sliver of skin would show.

I knew that that the Shabbat Queen would arrive every Friday night promptly at sunset.

It meant that there would be a hustle and bustle of preparation for hours, but that once the sun would set and the Shabbat candles lit, peace would reign in my childhood home, at least for a few hours.

I knew that my parents knew best and that they would find a marriage partner for me.

When I was 17 years old they started the search for the appropriate man and by the time I was 18, I was married to a Torah Scholar living in Israel, the beginning of new life growing in my belly.

The predictability was always there and knowing what to expect provided me with a sense of safety and security. I never had to wonder, to dream or to worry. I knew just what would happen, when it would happen, how it would happen and even why it would happen.

But throughout my childhood, I had moments where there was another feeling growing inside of me. I had fleeting moments when something inside of me felt differently. When that little voice said that there may be a different way of doing things.

My little six year old voice questioned what my life would be if I had been born in a different family, in a different religion. Would I still be told that I was so special and that it why there were so many rules? What would that feel like?

When I was eight I secretly bought a yellow popsicle that my mother did not allow us to buy because it was not kosher enough for us, as our family only ate the orange flavored ones. I remember those few fleeting moments of joy before I was caught and punished. The freedom of following my desires felt so sweet, even sweeter than the yellow juice dribbling down my chin.

I considered going to college when I was 17. Imagining myself educated and getting a “real job” felt so freeing and rebellious, both at the same time. That idea was quickly nixed when my parents found an eligible young man for me and supporting him in his studies became the all important goal for me.

As I became older that inner knowing voice, that intuition deep inside of me could no longer be shut down. It begged to be listened to. No longer could I sit back and rely on the fact that my parents choose my marriage partner, so it must be best or that being a stay at home mom was the best choice for me or my children.

And I began to make different choices. I finally enrolled in college. I got a job outside the home and I let that little voice grow and grow. Despite the misgivings of my family and community, I finally left my marriage several years later, deeply knowing that I was doing the right thing for me and my children.

Now that I have more freedom and the ability to make my own choices, I am learning to listen to my intuition more and more every day. Sometimes my old habits of squelching my inner voice rear their ugly head and I allow myself to guided by others thoughts and beliefs but more often than not, I am now beginning to act from a place of true knowing, becoming more and more in tune with who I really am. I am listening to my inner voice, my intuition and my knowingness that resides in me.

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