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,

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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,

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


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…..


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.


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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What I learned from my mother

Twenty years ago, I buried my mother.  No words can explain how I felt as her body was lowered into her early grave.  I was inconsolable.  I didn’t want my mother to die; I wanted my mother.  I always wanted my mother, but I didn’t have one.  The woman who birthed me was a very sick woman who hurt me every day of my life until she died.  There were moments when she tried to love me, but it wasn’t natural.  My mother couldn’t love herself, so how could she possibly have loved her daughter.

Sometimes when I think back to her death and the year following, I can’t breathe.  I was so profoundly sad.  I lost not only the person who gave birth me, but also the potential to be loved in a way that only a mother can love.  No one loved me completely except perhaps my brother.  I was a sad and lonely little girl that just needed what didn’t exist.

While my childhood was filled with dark clouds, it wasn’t completely dark.  I learned so many lessons that have carried me into my adulthood.  I found light through my writing and through my own accomplishments.  Relying on myself became a reality that ultimately created the woman I am today.  I learned to treasure people for who they were and without expecting more than they could give.  To this day, pure ecstasy often surrounds me because I am able to rise above any sadness to find joy in life.

Below is a short letter that needed to be written.  Perhaps my mother is reading this letter from where she is.  My hope is that she knows that I grew tremendously as a result of my upbringing.  I am a survivor in every way.

To My Mother:

There is so much you taught me by example.  I am wiser because you were my mother.  You empowered me to be strong; you encouraged me to develop a strong set of self-preservation skills; and you trusted in my intuitive nature.  Through your actions, I learned that taking care of myself physically and spiritually were the only ways that I would thrive.

So often I reflect back to the messages I learned from your teachings.  I never missed a beat; I watched your relationship with the world and through watching you I became wise enough to live in this world.

While you surrounded me with violence and with pain, I grew.  I was able to find light in the darkest of places.  While you beat me with a seething temper, I learned to survive in spite of your wrath.  My hands are used for loving; I gently caress my children and they trust that my hands will never hurt them.  I hug my loved ones and allow my warmth to seep out into the world around me.  My touch is golden; it is filled with love and affection.

The only sound I remember coming from your mouth, as a child, was the shrill of your voice or the slurs of an uncommunicative person.  You had no kindness for me; you didn’t like me.  You didn’t respect me.  I was never smart or pretty; I was always fat and troubled.  Today, I tell my friends, my loved ones, and my children that I love them and I like who they are.  I believe in my boys; they are quite possibly the most precious angels in the entire world.  They emanate warmth and wisdom at nearly every given moment.  I am not certain if I would be as able to hear their voices if I had been heard.  My boys have taught me how to listen.

And in truth, you really did teach me one of the most valuable lessons I live by to this day.  You knew I was an intuitive person and you trusted my insights, my intuition.  Today I trust my thoughts and my wisdom because you never really questioned my intuition. So while you didn’t always like the things I knew, you trusted them.  And with that I was given wings to fly.  I could trust what I knew because you modeled that for me.

Watching you disintegrate in front me was pretty gruesome to see on a regular basis.  But today, I can honestly say that while I struggle with weight at times, I have always taken care of myself.  Spiritually and physically, I always look for ways to honor my body, my mind and my soul.  I am so grateful for my health and my spirit!

Recently, I got a license plate that said Hineini, which means here I am.  Hineini reminds me that while my needs are important, I am here to serve others and to help make the world a better place.  My needs are important, but so are the needs of others.  My life is not just about me; I like that I live for others and not just myself.

I am sorry for the pain you endured throughout your life.  And while I can’t easily thank you for the tough times, I can thank you for being my teacher; I am the person I am today because you were my mother.  The scars have healed for the most part and my world is full of light.

May you be blessed with inner peace wherever you are.

Your daughter,

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Letting Go

When I was a young girl or perhaps a teenager, my mother caused me great pain by always threatening to be part of my life, even after her death.  Marilyn knew that I believed in reincarnation and that I felt connected by both the world I lived and the worlds I had once been a part of; she also knew that I had keen psychic powers and that she was probably the only person who could play with them.

In Marilyn’s hands I suffered; she physically and mentally destroyed my childhood and spiritually left me the pieces to pick up as I grew and continue to grow though adulthood.  Today, I surround myself with light; I feel joy in the small things and total excitement in most things that would make others smile for only a moment.  Part of me believes that even as Marilyn gave me such enormous pain, she also empowered me to grow.  As a strong soul, I had the ability to make it through the darkness and to find the light!

Maybe my mother loved me; but she was too sick to parent.  The truth is that I forgive her and more importantly, I am letting go.  It really doesn’t matter any longer. Today, I have to continue to nurture the inner child and seek the light that will help me to balance the pain that once permeated my entire being.

My beloved teacher, Rabbi Shefa Gold, wrote a chant she calls Shining: “Arise and shine for your light has come, and the Glory of God is shining upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)  I have been chanting these words a lot over the past months.  The words have embraced me like a cocoon, as I have needed to feel myself surrounded by God’s healing light.

As I chant/drum, I often focus on a beautiful picture of a “tzadi” (Hebrew letter) that my close friend Jennifer Judelsohn created for her book, Songs of Creation: meditations on the sacred Hebrew alphabet.  For me the picture represents the power of fully giving in different ways,  tzedakah, tikkun olam and within relationships with others, as I also find balance for myself.  It is never about being recognized for what I do, it is always about giving completely while taking care of my own soul too.

Today, through the help of my dear friend, I was able to feel my mother’s hold let go of me.  Wherever she is, I believe that she has now released me and the words/realities of my childhood will never keep me bound tightly again.  As I chanted/drummed this morning and looked to my beautiful picture, I felt complete peace for the first time in a long time.

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Sometimes I feel surrounded by my shadows, the shadows of my heart, the darkness of my soul.  There are so many stories that are locked inside of me; I don’t actively hide them,  but over time I’ve stopped putting words to my memories/feelings.  Through living my experiences and watching others respond to those experiences, I know my stories can be hard to absorb.  Due to that reality, I share my stories rarely now.  In reality, except for a down moment or day, I don’t really have the need to share my stories too often.

My loved ones and friends want to hear about my life, but once the words are spoken people often become overwhelmed with sadness and forever inch away from hearing more of my stories; it is hard to absorb the foreign words of abuse.  My words are too intense to hear so the beautiful souls within my world, quite literally, find my stories too painful.  Over time,  I am finding that I have no words to share any more, no wisdom to give.  My childhood stories are dark and are hidden under the shadows of darkness.

Mostly I find the beautiful light that illuminates my world, but sometimes I don’t feel the warmth of that light.  My optimism has contributed to  my success as a person.  The darkness of my childhood has to be acknowledged, but doesn’t need to override my life.  I can see the joy that surrounds me now, laugh at the absurd and recognize sadness when it presents itself.

The tears are securely hidden in the crevices of my body.  Today I am feeling the need to be cradled in the cushions of warmth, sweetness and love.  I want to feel the cocoon of love surrounding me; I’ve been so strong for so long.  At the same time, today I trust the love that surrounds me; I know that the old wounds don’t ever completely go away, but they do heal.

Living with the neglect, the abuse, the filth and the loneliness as a child will forever impact who I am today.  The beauty is that I have learned from those experiences; I am alive in spite of those experiences.  The blessings that surround me are enormous in every way.   And it really is ok to have days when I need to be nurtured; today I never have to go without.  My story changed as I grew up and became a the woman that I am.  I made choices and I climbed out of the hell that once surrounded me.

Sharing these thoughts is helping me find the light within my soul.  My silence doesn’t really benefit me as it once did.  The silence used to be my cocoon, but I believe that might be changing.

Maybe, just maybe I need to share some of my stories so that those that care for me can see that I have quite literally survived with a light surrounding me.  My stories make up who I am, even the darker stories.  And maybe it is time for me to find the words that are hidden deep within me and trust those words to those that love me as I truly am.

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