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Posts Tagged ‘abuse’

Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

Loving Nature

Life can be totally overwhelming, yet I know that I have to take time to notice the world around me. Whenever I do, I am generally floored by what I am seeing.

Today was one of those days when I fell thoroughly in love with nearly everything I saw.

Everywhere I turned, nature called to me. The moment, I woke up, my dog Maddie started wagging her tail and showing how happy she was; the day before she had been so sick that I found myself afraid that she wasn’t going to be ok.. And then when I was on my way to an appointment, I saw a turkey vulture on a fence post. On my way home from my appointment, I had to swerve from hitting a turtle who was crossing the road.  Each of these moments brought me immense joy! I love when I notice nature as clearly as I did today.

And then on my way home from the store this evening, Dovi and I watched the lightening which felt like it was engulfing the roads around Louisa, Virginia. Even now, as I type this, the thunder is probably waking up anyone who is trying to sleep. The sounds are quite magnificent.

The bottom-line is that I always feel so much more whole when I am connecting with nature. I am thrilled to be part of a people that openly acknowledges the special moments in nature and in life.

The silence of the skies is profoundly telling; learning how to listen is the key.

The silence of the skies is profoundly telling; learning how to listen is the key.

“ברוך אתה ה’ אלהינו מלך העולם עושה מעשה בראשית”
Blessed are You, LORD, our God, King of the Universe maker of the works of Creation.

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Note: I will be Counting the Omer for a total of 49 days, from Passover to Shavuot or from Slavery to Freedom. For many, this is simply the Counting the Omer; for others, it is a tool for exploring the kabbalistic teachings in an organized way. For me, it is a time to actively reflect on my Journey Towards Wholeness. The more I am whole, the more free I will become.  [http://t.co/dBPYjDxSGj . . . .]

red yahrzeit candle

My mother’s yahrzeit was today.  While I nearly forgot, my body remembered; my body always remembers.  By mid-day, a headache formed making it impossible for me to relax and enjoy my afternoon.  In fact, as I found myself with time in one of my favorite parts of the country, Woodstock (New York), yet all I could do was take time to talk to my sons and then come back to the house I am staying to shower and write.

I needed to be alone. I needed to to take time to release the tears that often remain latent. While tonight, I don’t feel like I can allow the tears to flow freely, I am allowing them to come to my eyes.  Once I know that I will have hours of privacy, I may take the time I need to cry.

While I now realize that life for Marilyn was far from easy, I acknowledge that my life as her daughter was horrible. I will never forget what I endured on a daily basis.  Still, I am not sure she could help herself; she was too sick to manage her body and mind. As I result, there will be moments of my life when I have to navigate a few too many emotional wounds.  The good news is that I can now go months without considering the impact of my childhood pain. I am so blessed that all the years of hard work are paying off. While dark memories may come, they only last for brief moments not for any length of time!!!

Each year, I try seek a healthy way of approaching Marilyn’s life and death.  For some reason, this year, I am feeling deeply scarred by her legacy and more vulnerable then I’d like to admit.

Instead of hiding in the shadows of pain, I want to bask in the light inspired me to thrive – always.  My Omer Reflections have continuously motivated me to keep finding tools to support me in My Journey Towards Wholeness. I am alive! This is the time to keep nurturing my life in the best ways possible!!

My mother’s life and subsequent death filled me with tools for survival and thriving.  That awareness feels awesome.  That is what I am focusing on as I move into Day 23 of the Counting of the Omer.  Today, I find myself committing to life and doing whatever it takes to thrive.

My mother harmed her body by continuously filling her body with drugs and alcohol. With that in mind, I am going to start my mornings off with food that is nurturing and energy provoking. Lately, I have noticed that breakfast always leaves me tired. Upon reflection, I realized that the only time I felt energetic and ready for the morning is when I begin the day with a green smoothie, so tomorrow, I will begin that routine again.  AND on my way back home, I will finally purchase the Ninja (smoothie maker/blender) and fruit/veggies for my daily smoothies. It’s time. Originally, I was going to wait until I moved to Houston, but waiting no longer seems prudent.

While money is still tight for me right now, being healthy is a bigger challenge.  I have work to do and I don’t want to wait any longer. My mother’s yahrzeit  inspired me to take better care of myself; I am worth making healthy.

All ideas for making healthy smoothies are welcome! I need your help!

With love, light, and blessings,
Chava

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Last night, I read and then posted an article that inspired me to reflect about my childhood.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2013/11/families_dealing_with_mental_illness_need_support_too.single.html

I remember as a young girl, my mother bounced from rehab for drug/alcohol addiction to ICU for cancer and other serious illnesses. Whenever she was ill with medical emergencies, everyone offered help; whenever she was in recovery for addiction, I sat alone for weeks or months on end as my father had to take care of his work and then visit his wife…..

Memories

In truth, life was easier for me when she was in a recovery setting.  During those weeks, violence and pain did not surround me, nor did harsh words and angry energy.  My mother was a violent drug/alcohol abuser when she was awake or she was passed out on the floor or wherever else she landed.  My home environment wasn’t pretty.  And when she was in the hospital, no one let me stay home alone.   If I was home alone, my brother would often visit from Israel because of the serious nature of whatever was going on.  Those weeks or months were awesome; when my brother was visiting, I somehow felt protected and emotional safe.

Growing up in an abusive home was never easy.  I didn’t know how to tell anyone what living was like.  So I retreated to a silent place.  I often wonder if “my friends” liked me growing up or if the kids just tolerated me because they had known me all my life.  I know I had friends, but the daily pain of surviving was really too intense for me to remember what it was like to go to class or to hang out with others.  At a very young age, I learned to be an actress; I learned that no one would understand what I was facing and that no one could help.  In truth, many of my neighbors and some of my relatives had a clue, but in the end it was only once I reached about 16 years old that I began to feel supported by adults that could make a difference.  Yay!!

May we each reach to find the beauty that surrounds us.

My mother died when I was in my early 20s…..nothing prepared for my life or her death, but in the end, I found the power to be what I am today. While the journey is truly never ending, I am blessed to be where I am -most of the time.  The single most reality that brings a smile to my face is that I am grateful that I didn’t become her in any way; I found the inner-strength to emerge into the person I am today.

When I was a child there were few words to express what I faced.  My friends would have never understood and others didn’t want to get involved.  Yet, I had many pockets of time in which my friends gave me a safe and sweet haven (mostly unknowingly).  During those moments, I could laugh, eat a healthy meal, and not have to look at what was behind me.  I treasure those moments when I truly felt safe.  Unknowingly, friends gave me reprieve from what I faced even if they didn’t know what they were doing.
As a young adult, I didn’t share my stories.  Instead I was healing from the rawness I had once felt.  While the nightmares were still part of my life, I treasured the daylight hours when I was safe.  Over time, I was able to move forward and heal.  Having a family and a community of my own gave me roots for the first time in my life.  Only when I was in my thirties could I find the words to share the reality of what had been a part of my life.  My guess is that I needed a few years of silence before I could speak of the darkness that surrounded my earlier years.
For my friend that asked if she was an ostrich, please know that I was a wounded child that didn’t know how to let people into my cocoon.  And you were a child living your life.  That is what children do!!! The good news is I am ok now and I have friends that can listen when I reach those sad moments of reflection that some days visit me.
No one should feel sad or guilty for not knowing….abused children are masters of disguise and I was no different.

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Years ago, I learned that there is no option for walking through life with a positive disposition.  This lesson has been handed to me again and again on a silver platter.  I’ve chosen to find light in darkness and light when there was seemingly little or no hope.  Early in my childhood, I strived to find something good in each and every challenge.

As someone who has been battered as a child, struggled with tremendous loss as an adult, watched her children struggle with health/life within their short lifetimes, and struggled with some hard challenges as an adult, I don’t believe in letting the tough times bring me too far down.  I believe in always finding the gifts within the challenges!  And I have received so many gifts over the years!!

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin Did you notice the butterfly? :)

Photo courtesy of Janie Grackin
Did you notice the butterfly? 🙂

I didn’t realize that I had the ability to find the gifts within the challenges until one day when one of my sons was in critical condition.  He had been struggling with health for so long and I didn’t want him to suffer any longer.  As sedation was enabling him to rest in his hospital room, I quietly told him that Imma (mommy) and Abba (daddy) would be OK if he needed to stop fighting for his life.  With tears streaming down my face, I told my little one that we were the luckiest parents in the world to have him in our lives for as long as we did.  I didn’t want to let go, but I knew that I might not have a choice; I didn’t want him to worry.  Little did I know that I would have to say that again in my lifetime, but I truly believe that people are gifts for as long as they are in our lives.  Today, I am profoundly grateful that my children are both vibrant and healthy individuals; I am grateful that both of them survived their health challenges and one doesn’t even remember them.  I am also happy that I learned something positive about myself as I faced the years of darkness.  There are always gifts within the challenges; sometimes they are more difficult to see at first, but over time they can be found.

My hope for you is that you shouldn’t be faced with the challenges that were once part of my life.  In my case, I did make it through and you can too.

Many years have passed since I faced that kind of darkness, but the lessons have stayed with me.  There is truly no option for allowing darkness to control me.  Yes there are moments when I am angry or sad, lonely or unhappy; they are moments.  The key is that I have to trust that the moments will pass and all will be OK.

I always get to decide how I navigate the harshness that life sometimes brings.  Working within a large community, I face all sorts of people and all sorts of moods.  My job is to embrace those people where they are and to move us forward without allowing their sometimes bad mood to bring me down.  I have a choice; I always have a choice.  And the great news is that most of my interactions with the world around me are really quite beautiful; enjoying life as I do means finding the gifts at every turn.

For me, finding the blessings that surround me is really not an option.  Can you say the same thing? I hope so!

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Tonight we counted Day 22  of the Omer, which is 3 weeks and one day of the counting of the Omer. Today is referred to as Chesed sheh b’Netzach or loving-kindness within endurance.

yizkor

Tonight I lit a yizkor candle for my mother. She was never emotionally healthy, but she was still the woman who gave birth to me. 

My hope and my prayer is that wherever her spirit lies, may it be full of peace. Peace never came to her in life, perhaps it came to her in death.

For years, I was tormented by mother’s life and then later her death.  She was so profoundly ill that she was unable to act as a healthy mother should; her spirit must have been broken.

Tonight I realized that for the first time in my life, I felt completely neutral to the pain and darkness that my mother’s presence perpetrated in my life.  Somehow, I have found the endurance to find it in my heart to move forward; I have also found it in my heart to wish peace for her spirit.

Chesed sheh b’Netzach – May it be so 

 

 

 

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Last night, we counted Day 18 of the Omer, which is 2 weeks and 4 days of the counting of the Omer. Today is referred to as Netzach sheh b’Tiferet or endurance within beauty.   Tiferet is not simply beauty, it encompasses so much more; when you see the complete picture of Tiferet, you also see balance and harmony too.

Besides being the 18th day of the counting of the Omer, it is also 3 Iyar.  For most of you, it might not mean too much for me, it leaves me reflective as I embrace reality.  I love counting the Omer, each day gives me tools to look inward while focusing on different aspects of my journey.  In Netzach sheh b’Tiferet,I am able to find how endurance has brought me to a beautiful and balanced foundation; endurance has helped me ride waves and find my own center.  This reality has been true time and time again as I have faced life’s challenges.  But last night, I felt it even more.

For me, the month of Iyar (Jewish month) from the beginning until my mother’s yahrzeit (the anniversary of her death) on 7 Iyar is profoundly rough on my spirit.  My body responds to Iyar before I even know it is here.  I mourn the loss of the mother I never had; I crave the time to curl up in a ball  allowing my pain to move through me; and I feel sadness.  The funniest part about all this is that each year, I am surprised by what is happening to me internally until suddenly I notice the date and then I realize my spirit knows what my mind doesn’t yet absorb.  The subconscious mind is a powerful tool.

When I think of Netzach sheh b’Tiferet, I realize that incredible endurance and fortitude that has brought me to this time.  There is a beauty within my very being that soars because I have found a way to navigate what was and what continues to be.  That knowledge helps me walk through the world as I do and allows me to touch people in positive ways; my energy is often a positive force within the world I live.

Light emerges out of darkness.

Light emerges out of darkness.

While painful things were done to me and experienced by me because of my mother’s actions, I have still found a way to become a light to others.  The darkness I have suffered didn’t destroy my spirit.  In fact, I found the sparks wherever I could and created more light.  Endurance.  I am alive and thriving in every way and in most every interaction.

So while I shed tears last night as I heard the Mourner’s Kaddish (prayer), I also know that my experience as Marilyn’s daughter made it possible for me to become the person I am.  My spirit’s endurance and my inner light will continue to grow and shine.

My prayer for each of us is that we have a life of ease and goodness, but if times get tough:

  • May we each find the sparks that help us navigate the darkness.
  • May we find the endurance we need so that we may ultimately thrive.

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Throughout my life, I have been repulsed by simple designs of small roses found on flannel sheets, wall paper, etc.  Whenever I saw it, my body would tremble and tears would well in my eyes.  For most of my life, I never knew why that was or how to stop the reaction.

When my father died, I was tasked with cleaning his house.  For the most part, I treated this job mechanically.  Since growing up was not easy for me, it was easy to trash 35+ years into a dumpster.  But then I came upon a laundry bin full of soft fabrics that my mother used for cleaning.  In the bin I found the evidence of my years of torment when I saw the fabric with small roses.  There stood the remnants of soft flannel pajamas that I wore as a toddler; I remember never wanting to take them off of me.   I loved my pajamas!

The moment I saw the rose covered fabric, I started crying hysterically; I couldn’t breathe; my entire body trembled.  All I could do was curl up into a ball and sob like I haven’t sobbed in years.  The details don’t matter, but at that very moment, I remembered how those pajamas became rags.  The vision was pretty gruesome and the pain that I have endured since is hard.

In a millisecond this morning the old reality was transformed.

I was blessed with a beautiful shift in that old reality.  As I was curled up in bed under my favorite blanket, I saw a patch of that very same rose design on my quilt.  My friend Carol made me this beautiful quilt; she chose every fabric and texture to honor not only my love of nature, but my need for both a heavy yet soft quilt.  I love this quilt more than any object in my life.

The love Carol gave to me when she created the quilt was enormous.  At that time, no one had ever given me such a gift. (Note: Since that time, I have been given several gifts that were made with me in mind from friends that made me feel loved.)  As I looked down at my precious blanket, the rose design on the square was transformed as a sign of love.

With each step that I take, I heal.

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