The hummus is passed around the Shabbat table. I am surrounded by friends and acquaintances speaking about the joys and stressors of being new parents.

“Childproofing our apartment took a month,” one dad says.

”No way! It takes that long?” a man holding his newborn asks in shock.

The banter continues, sharing stories of their births. I wanted to say something so badly. I wanted to say, “On behalf of all the couples embracing infertility here, cough, cough, perhaps you can save the bonding over being parents until after we leave?”

You have worked so hard for this to not bother you anymore. Get over it. I scolded myself.

I sucked it in.

I fed one of the babies a bottle and tried to evaporate. Maybe if I could just disappear, I would be less uncomfortable.

The soup course is served.

Who cares if they aren’t being sensitive, I tell myself, why should they know any better?

Anyway, we are fine. We know G‑d has a plan for us.

Never had I been so creative for every reason under the sun as to why this shouldn’t bother me.

Brownies were gobbled up, and tea was served. I thought of whispering to the hostess, “Could you tone down the baby talk a bit?” But the thought of it left me with an aching shame. I would have to admit that things hurt me, that I carry my heart on my sleeve, that there is a part of me that isn’t evolved enough to handle it.

I felt the fresh air on my skin. The words that left my mouth the moment I was alone were not evolved, to say the least. I was mad at everyone for being so insensitive about something I kept telling myself I shouldn’t be so sensitive about.

G‑d asks us to bring him an offering1. It says to bring an offering mikem, “from you.” It is not something external, it is from within.2

If this is about inner work, why don’t we just bring G‑d an inner offering? Why must we externalize that process with a physical offering?

Judaism is neither about physical acts nor spiritual ones. It is about the fusion of the two. When we take our inner work and give it to G‑d in a tangible way, we merge heaven and earth. The offering was consumed by a heavenly, yet very real fire.

Our offering is usually the last thing we want to put on the altar.

To be honest, the choicest piece of my ego is my “enlightenment.” I pride myself on being spiritually on board and reconciled with G‑d’s master plan and having all my boxes checked when it comes to my inner growth.

You can imagine that makes being human a little tricky.

I lay on my hammock as the sun set over the mountains.

G‑d, I don’t want to spend my life telling people how to act around me. It feels pathetic. It feels needy. It feels like I am being overly sensitive.

Uggh, I am so trapped.

The last glow of the sunset was quickly replaced by thick purple clouds. I am tired of being quiet. I made myself endure too much. Part of my teshuvah, my spiritual work, is for not standing up for myself. Keeping it all inside hurts, big time.

I thought for years that saying something was externalizing the issue; I thought the key was solely focusing on my inner work.

Ariel found my hiding spot in the hammock.

“Don’t tell me all the things you wish you had said; next time tell me what you said.” Ariel urges once again.

I am tired of watching my husband feel frustrated as he watches me leave social gatherings that he thought I was fine with, and then see, to his disbelief, how my inner world unravels.

“But I don’t want to be rude. Also, it’s so embarrassing. I am embarrassed to even admit to you how much it bothers me. Even to you.”

The words of Tanya come flying off the page and hit me in the face: If you are sad over your spiritual standing, then you clearly don’t know your place. The Alter Rebbe is saying that the cause of feeling low at your spiritual downfall is a sign of arrogance; you think you should be holier than you are.

I think I should be spiritually enlightened. I think I should feel that G‑d is always with me and therefore nothing bothers me. But is that G‑d’s spiritual plan for me or my own?

And so, I decide that my new inner work is to say something. Not to attack. Not to blame. Just to share vulnerability.

I hate this. I wish my inner work could just be inner work. Why I am being called on to make my inner work my outer work.

But I am. I need to accept this and stop dying inside.

Until now, I only knew one way to state my needs—by being controlling, forceful or too intense for even me to handle. And so, I told myself it is better to keep my feelings inside. Better to hold my dignity.

But drowning in this pain, that I shame myself for having, simply because I don’t know how to state my needs, is also not dignified.

Speech has the potential to hold royalty. Kabbalistically it is compared to malchut, “kingship.” But its crown (keter), supreme consciousness, must first be in place.

The belief that asking for what I need is pathetic because I shouldn’t need it leads to undignified speech that remains muffled within.

The belief that everyone wants to make me comfortable, and that G‑d wants me to feel good is a good belief. It leads to simply expressing my desire. For example, I need to say: I would love it if we can talk about topics we all have in common and not focus so much on baby stuff.

Demanding my needs too forcefully or being mad that I even needed to state my needs, that never felt regal. But to be vulnerable and express my pure desire is to open a new world of femininity, dignity and queenship.

Sunday morning, I write out a list of ways I can state my desire with vulnerability.

It is really painful to hear people talking about being a new parent. I am really happy for everyone and love playing with the babies. But talking about it leaves me choking back tears.

I want to yell at myself for writing this. Grow up. Get over yourself and move on.

I tried. I did all therapies known to mankind, well almost. And the pain is still here.

So I can shame it away deeper into my cells. Or I can express my feelings.

Here it goes, I am taking off the training wheels and learning how to speak. G‑d, open my lips, and let my words declare your praise. Please let my words express my pure desire and vulnerability.

Trying to figure out the problem solely in my inner world forged a tunnel in my self-esteem. It was an act of dissociation. It was an attempted back-ladder escape from the pain I needed to confront.

So, here is my korban, my personal sacrifice. I am putting my enlightened ego in the fire and giving You my very humanness, the vulnerability that I wish didn’t exist. But for You, I am willing to go all out.

G‑d wants a home in this world. Not a place where I spiritually dissociate to cover the pain of just sitting at a Shabbat table. And if that means expressing my desire to make myself feel at home, I guess for you, G‑d, I can do that.