coming out of the narrow place

I said that I had a lot to say about Pesach, still, and that I would keep saying it, so here goes, I guess.

So Pesach (Passover) celebrates our redemption from slavery in Egypt.  The name for Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim, which literally means “narrow place.”

How interesting that the place of our communal slavery takes the name of a narrow place–a place where you can’t move freely, a place where you might feel trapped on both sides.

When I was with X, it seemed like so much of my life was spent walking a balance beam.  There was no room to stretch out to the right or to the left.   Everyday my focus was first on him–his mood would determine more than anything else how my day would go.  I was always on edge, constantly looking out for situations that might tip his fragile mood.

And yet I told myself how fortunate I was to have found my “soulmate.”  He would give me just enough to have me believe I was happy, or at least that if there was a problem, it was with me.  At least, he used to do that.  The last few months were the last few months precisely because I had learned to say “no,” and learned it better and better, but it never stopped scaring me, and I never stopped feeling the edges of that balance beam, fearing that I could fall off at any time.

I never did fall, but I jumped, and my hands still shake from time to time from the effects of it.  But I am off of that balance beam for good.  I am out of that narrow place.  As hard as this time is–divorce, the practicalities and legalities and the healing and the hurting, it is so much better than living in those cramped quarters, not ever knowing if I was truly loved or not.  Now I know that I wasn’t, not really, not by him.  But I am now, by many others, and that knowledge is freeing.

As I was driving away during the Great Escape, through the small towns and across the state lines, it’s as if the geography of the countryside itself  was reflecting my escape from Mitzrayim.  The further I went, the sky seemed to open up as the land flattened and the trees became more sparse.  It seemed as if the land itself was unlocking and standing open before me for the rest of my life, and all that lay behind me was Mitzrayim, was dark and tight and narrow, and all that lay ahead was bright and wide and mine for the taking.  And these were a few days before Pesach and I was so aware of that time, that I was running from my own slavery, that I was going out to my own promised land, and that I might have to spend some time in a desert before getting there, but that I was on my way and I wasn’t going back.

“In every generation one must see oneself as if one had personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt.  As it is written:  ‘You shall speak to your children on that day, saying, this is how the Holy Blessed One redeemed me from Egypt.  It wasn’t merely my ancestors who were redeemed, but the Holy Blessed One also redeemed us with them…'”  (from the Haggadah)


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