Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘alone’

broken hearted(Trigger warning: This excerpt may be harsh for those who have experienced childhood trauma or who love me.)

My mother tried to kill me.

I don’t say these words lightly nor do I know if my mother’s intention was in fact to kill me. I will never know that. And in truth, the moment she started swinging the butcher knife towards me may not have been a conscious one for her. Marilyn was mentally ill, a drug abuser, and a very sick soul.

But none of this matters. What matters is that I had no where to go to be safe. No one loved me enough to take me in or to protect me from the barrage of eruptive energy that I faced daily. I was alone. Or should I say that I felt alone.

The feeling of loneliness has never left me. My childhood impacted me on a cellular level and while I have family, friends, and tools that fill me with love and often show up when I need to be physically or metaphorically held, it doesn’t always help. The shattered feeling that has been part of my life since birth is still part of my life; it just is. And the good news is that I have filled my world with so many beautiful people that I can usually push through my default sense of loneliness.

My work is to keep showing up, living authentically, and sharing my stories so that others don’t have to be alone and so that we can all inspire one another. And today, I know I can reach out to my tribe. While I will not necessarily ask for help or even share the specifics of what is hurting me, I am so much better at letting those who love me know that I am having a hard time and that I need to be held. Perhaps one day, I will learn to better ask for help.

Back to the knife . . .

As a child I used to love living across the street from my synagogue and celebrating the Jewish holidays. Judaism was always in my blood and the fall holidays when I was in 8th grade were no different. I would walk out of my house, turn right and walk up Pikeswood Drive. I knew just about everyone who lived on my block. Once I got to the traffic light at the top of the street, I felt somehow more relaxed, safe, and free. I would cross over Liberty Road and my synagogue would be awaiting my return. I loved Beth Israel.

The deal had always been that I could stay home from school on the Jewish holidays if I went to Beth Israel for services. This was a no brainer; I loved going to shul, which is what I called my synagogue growing up. I loved everything about the congregation. I loved the services, the onegs (nosh after services), my friends, their parents, and all of the older members. As long as I was at Beth Israel, I felt a sense of solace in my stressful life.

Nearly every Shabbat/Saturday, I went to the morning services and on most every holiday too. After services were over, I would read and do homework during the afternoons and evenings.  By junior high school, now known as middle school, I was a fairly good student. I did have some challenges, but I generally tried to do well.

On the night my mother came into my room swinging a butcher knife, I was so worried about a biology test I had coming up. I hated the teacher who seriously had it out for me. I was hyper-focused and trying to learn the material; I didn’t want to fail. But life took a dark turn that would forever impact any false sense of security I had.

Initially, I was hearing my mother screaming, slurring her words and banging something against my door. This was not unusual, so I tried to ignore it or maybe I screamed that she shut up. By junior high school, I was done withstanding abuse, but that didn’t really change anything. I was bigger and stronger which helped, but my mother was still a mentally ill addict.

When the noise didn’t quiet down, I opened my door in exasperation and was stunned at what I saw. A huge knife getting ready to come down on me or into me or wherever. I was scared shit-less. All I remember is somehow pushing my mother down and hearing her yell obscenities at me as I ran out of the house and to a neighbor. I can’t imagine what my friend’s parents thought of me when they opened the door to see me sobbing and shaking.

Sadly, I only have a vague recollection of what transpired over the next few hours. The police came followed by social services and I was taken away to temporary foster home. As time went on, I realized that no one in the foster care system believed that a young Jewish child could be abused by her Jewish mother.  The nightmare was horrific, but the aftermath was even worse.

Without anyone there to believe me or see me, I was forced to navigate the world differently. And my mother was mortified about all that was going on and begged social services not to put me into a Jewish home. She was really worried about what would the neighbors think. So they did the next best thing, they took me to live with a couple that were active in their beautiful Methodist church. So during my time in that foster home, I went to church every Sunday. Sigh.

So not only did I lose my home, my school, Beth Israel, my friends, I lost my spiritual home. I was really on my own.

Not being seen and not being heard started me on a path of self-destruction. I did drugs with little or no worry for what I was taking, I climbed moving trains and jumped off the top of them, and I had little regard for my life. I wasn’t worthy enough to be heard so I started to embody a life that reinforced just that. I also learned that my voice didn’t matter, so silence became my closest friend. Over time I stopped sharing my stories and started lying. Nothing I said mattered so I learned to share what I thought people wanted to hear.

Months later, I returned home. The alternative was going to a girls’ group home where the girls were brutal to one another. At least at home, I only had to keep myself safe from my mother not another 15 – 20 teenage girls. The good news is that I don’t remember as much violence once I returned. The eruptions never stopped, but I don’t remember any more physical pain upon my return.

But 14 years of hell and many more years of volatile outbursts caused a lifetime of healing ahead of me. While I accepted that I was broken, I also understood that I was a thriver and actually quite whole too. I am a work in progress. My work has always been to keep taking one step and then another. I had lived through hell and I had ultimately found my voice.

And the good news is that my mother didn’t kill me.

Hineini, I am here!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island
And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

~From Paul Simon’s ‘I Am A Rock’ 
For most of my childhood and even my adult life, I grew to treasure Simon and Garfunkel’s “I Am A Rock” as a mantra in my life. As soon as the song played, I would feel like this song was written just for me. My heart would begin racing quickly, my spirit would feel at peace and I would sing out the words, “I AM A ROCK; I AM ISLAND” as if I were greeting my best friend.
Subconsciously, I always understood that I needed to protect myself from being hurt by others. And this song reminded me that I had my armor; I was actually doing just fine. Of course, I wasn’t. . . I was alone and even if I wasn’t alone, I felt like I was.
And then I met Louis at my senior prom. I am sorry Shai. I went with one of my closest friends and met the person who would become my first real boyfriend. Louis was and still is one of the most amazing people I had ever met. He loved me deeply and accepted the brokenness that must have been a pain to deal with. Or maybe he didn’t see how broke I was because it took me nearly twenty years after meeting him before I understood the ramifications of my traumatic childhood.
Either way, Louis showed up and held me. He helped me find my voice and allowed me to be who I was. Of course what does any 18 year old really understand about who they are? Louis loved who I was and who I believed I was at that time.
When I say that Louis helped me find my voice, that is true in every way. He listened to me and helped melt away the years of ice that had wrapped my spirit. He wrote me beautiful poems that let me know how loved I was. And he invited me to sing with him and to him. He welcomed me into his world and loved me for who I was.
And later when our relationship ended because Louis came out, he always held a space for me in his life. I was shattered when he told me could no longer be my beloved boyfriend because he realized that that wasn’t who he was. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. And in truth, since the day we met, my life has never been without him. Louis was the first person outside of my family who really loved me forever.
Fifteen years later, when I brought my father to the hospital for what would become his last six weeks of life, Louis was the first person I called and he was the one person who sat with me as one of the worst nightmares of my life unfolded. I was saying good-bye to my father who I had always deeply adored and somehow forgiven for not being able to keep me safe, for not being the father he should have been. I was beyond devastated; and my sons, nieces, and nephews were losing the best Zaydie Morry, grandfather, in the world.
As I sat crumbling in the depths of despair, Louis held me and told me that everything would be OK. Only I didn’t believe him, but he was right, eventually a new norm unfolded and everything became OK once again. Louis has always been there for me.
Chava and Louis - Passover 2016

Louis and Chava – Passover 2016

I jokingly refer to myself as the wandering Jew; I will probably always feel that way. Regardless of where my family moved, Louis has stayed part of my life. When my family moved back Washington DC, he started coming to our Passover Seder every year and then when we again moved away, he still kept coming back every other year. He has been with me through every life cycle event and major life change since I met him. He has showed up even when I didn’t expect him to.

Meeting Louis also meant that I was blessed to connect to his beautiful family. His parents were really sweet to me and I grew to love one of his sisters nearly as much as I loved Lou!  And when we were in college, he introduced me to the most amazing women who while I don’t see them enough, I treasure beyond words.
While I still struggle with feeling alone at times and “shielding myself with armor”, it was Louis’ commitment to loving me that opened the door to me becoming the person I am.  I may sometimes feel like “a rock” or “an island”, but it is also the lie I tell myself as way of protecting my spirit.
May we all have at least one person who embraces us for who we are.

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS: Thanks for reading what will likely be part of my memoir which at this point is being called, Thriving: No Option. . . . If you like what you are reading, please take a moment and like it on WordPress or any social media site, And if you have feedback, I’d love to hear it.

Read Full Post »

years ago I was afforded the opportunity to remain silent for nearly 8 days. a dear friend of mine gave me the keys to his log cabin in the Berkshires which was located in rural western Massachusetts. the time was magical, challenging, beautiful, and wildly needed.

being alone in that silence was a powerful time for me and it became the most transformative time in my life. it was there I cried out the atrocities that I faced in my childhood and began to release the pain. it was there that I found the courage to change my name and allow for further transformation. it was there that I found the inner strength to ask Michael for a divorce (the first time). it was there that I realized that I had the spirit to accomplish what I wanted to in life.

with each step and with each passing day I became profoundly  aware that I am and always will be a work in progress.  each step allowed for stretching, growing, and becoming more grounded in the person I am. the 8 days lead me to new heights and allowed me to face some very real realities too.

Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

moving forward. . .
until this afternoon, I hadn’t realized that I haven’t had real time alone in so very long, perhaps even years. I guess I now understand why I have been feeling like I am on overload; I need to allow for more quiet in my life. while I don’t currently have 8 full days, I will take as much time as I can over the next 11 days when my sons are visiting their dad and grandmother. with work and previously scheduled plans, I have decided to treasure the quiet hours I do have.

I started by canceling three sets of plans for today and tomorrow. 🙂 I bet you are wondering what I will do with the time. this is easy to answer. I will take time just to sit in the quiet, write without distraction, and breathe a little more deeply. I will also take naps, work on some of my art, and chant. and finally, the dogs, Maddie and Magic will get some undivided attention.

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up
and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.
You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”
~Anne Lamott

allowing for the sadness
the world has been dragging my spirit down a little bit of lately. how can it not?

once I realized that I haven’t had or taken the time I needed to center myself, I understood why I was taking the harshness as hard as I have. yes, life is not easy for someone who walks in the world as I do, but I do have the responsibility to find the light and the angels in this world. I can’t move forward in any are if I don’t take that time to nurture my own spirit.

I do have some reasons both personally and within the many worlds I exist to feel sadness. so with that in mind, I am allowing for the tears to fall. in truth, there is no container that can gather the tears, but that’s ok. I believe that tears plant seeds towards new growth. you can’t move forward without navigating the darkness. once through the darkness, all of us can slowly catch the sparks that will create more light in our worlds.

and in truth, my life has so much light too. I live in a world of angels that are doing all they can to make the world a better place. in fact, I am showing up to make our world a better place too. I, sincerely, feel blessed in the world I have and continue to create for myself.

as my teacher SARK might say, it is my job to embrace “the messy middle”; I am perfectly imperfect. so I am doing just that as I take time to listen to the quiet.

may we all move towards the light and do whatever we can to create more sparks.

with love, light, and blessings,
chava

 

 

Read Full Post »

“The wound is the place where the light enters you.”
~Rumi

No one heard me when I was younger. No one. I got used to it – so used to it that I nearly buried myself in drug abuse. With no way out and no one to hear my cries, I found solace in remaining wasted.

I started young and covered up the disarray  of my soul with more blankets of dysfunction. And no one knew; no one heard my cry for help. Instead I had to find my own way out. At 16 years old, I decided to leave the world of mind altering drugs behind and to build a new foundation.

The only trouble is that I never learned how to handle my emotions when I thought no one was willing to listen. Even now, I feel a deep sense of loss when I am not being heard or my thoughts are even temporarily being ignored.  Intellectually, I know that people are busy, but inside I am still the little girl no one heard.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yesterday, I wrote about how I was feeling drawn to listening to the quiet (https://wp.me/pthnB-3bP), but I do so with the awareness that my beloveds need to be seen, to be known, and to be loved as my spiritual mentor and writer SARK would teach.

Over the past weeks, I have been amazed at the silence I have needed to surround myself with, but I have been equally aware that I have had some friends that have needed me to be present. So, that is exactly what I did. I found myself taking a flight from Houston to Tucson so that I could nurture a friend who was recovering from major surgery. I also, connected with friends that were struggling with other challenges, and I almost helped a woman reunite with her 5 year old son by driving her four hours to pick up her son and then return to Houston. Fortunately, I ended up not needing to take the drive, but I would have.

Life happens.

AcknowledgeHere is the thing I have learned over the years. I am virtually alone. I have amazing family in Israel, but they are too far away to help without notice. AND I have the most dedicated friends in the world, but they are all over the map. Currently, I live in Houston and if it weren’t for barely a couple of people from my community and my sons, I would struggle if I really needed help; I just don’t have a support system here.

There is some really good things that come from feeling lonely and being virtually alone. I have come to understand that even when I know that my beloved friends and family are busy/distracted by life, I need to feel like I am seen.  Not all the time, but sometimes feeling ignored can hurt me deeply. Unfortunately, my childhood sense of alone-ness is never too far behind.

That realization is helping me become a better friend. If I need to be acknowledged, so do others. Everyone wants to be seen.

I am far from perfect, but I am improving over time. I am also getting better at telling those that I love, that sometimes I need a quick response with a promise that the other person will reach out as soon as possible.

My own loneliness has lead me to becoming a more beautiful friend; I think that is a good thing.

May we all show up the best way we know how; may we give those that need light, a spark from our own reservoir. And if you need me, please let me know. I am not a mind reader.

Onward with love and light,
Chava

Read Full Post »

Mendocino CA-Sandra G. Wortzel

Mendocino, California Photo Courtesy of Sandra G. Wortzel

something inside of me broke this past week. the details don’t really matter, but it happened. at first the darkness felt like it would devastate me. while I knew that I was surrounded by a loving village, I still struggled . . .

the tears rolled down my cheeks daily (sometimes hourly) and my soul broke open. breathing wasn’t optional; if I was going to push through, I had to take one breath and then another. there were moments when all I had was my breath to get me from moment to moment. and you know what? it worked.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

there was another gift or many gifts that helped me move forward. it was the realization that as alone as I felt that I was being held by so many people that simply showed up. most of them had no idea how broken I was feeling, but I kept hearing nearly the same message time and again.

whenever I found myself the most fragile, an angel whispered. “I see you.” or an old friend would call and say, “I just want you to know how much I love you.” another phenomena that kept coming up was that virtual strangers and close friends kept reaching out to me for advice, for insight, for help and sometimes for loving energy.

barely a couple of hours passed without me being reminded that I touch peoples lives. this helped me (mostly) navigate out of my cocoon of sadness. it’s hard to stay trapped in a cocoon when angels keep forcing sparks of light in.

by the time, I realized that I wasn’t as invisible as I felt, I received the following ending email from Sark, one of my favorite writers:

You are seen, You are known, You are loved.

I remember opening up her email and thinking ‘how did she know that I needed to see those words?’

even as I am in the midst of writing this, my brother reached out and asked if I was ok, my childhood big brother showed up even though I haven’t connected with him in months, and I received an email from another friend who I have not been in close contact with.

all week long, old friends, new friends, strangers, other activists, and members of my community kept reaching out. I’d say almost none of those people had any idea that inside I was crumbling and feeling strangely invisible.

so. . .while things within my heart and spirit feel overwhelming and conflicted. the universe is communicating. hiding isn’t an option during this bout of internal pain. the angels are letting me know that there is work to do.

how beautiful is it that I truly feel loved and held through all that I am navigating. wow. what a gift to know that I am not alone.

I just need to remember in the words of Jai-Jagdeesh’s:

Know you are loved
Rest in peace
Dream your sweet dreams
“Til your soul is released

Beloved Child
My heart is yours
Beloved Child
Go out and open doors
With your love
With your faith
With your compassion
With your grace
Oh, with your grace

Beloved Child
You are the light of the world
Beloved Child
Go out, spread light to the world
Be strong, be kind, be brave
Know your mind
know that you’re are divine
Know that it’s alright to be afraid

if you want a treat, take a few minutes to get lost in not only Jai-Jagdeesh’s word, but the actual song too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Om3e4qOxdLs

may the lights that shines in every corner of my world reach me and may I always remember that regardless of where I am to share that light with others. feeling grateful to live in a village that never lets me hide for long.

i got this and so do you!

Read Full Post »

BreatheThere are days and weeks when I know that I don’t belong – anywhere. The loneliness seeps in and I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am alone. The sadness settles deep inside my core until I can take a deep breath and navigate the jagged edges of my soul.

I know that I am not alone when I say that certain seasons are a trigger. The good news is that after decades of being reintroduced to the darkness every year, I have learned to ride the waves and trust that these feelings will not last forever.

I have learned to breathe deeply.

This week has been really tough in some ways, but profoundly enlightening in other ways. I have allowed myself to ride the waves of emotions and to take the time to face whatever I am feeling at any given moment.

And yes, I am alone, but that is ok.  I don’t believe most people want to hear about what the winter holidays were like for me growing up. And I don’t think anyone wants to hear what I was doing 28 years ago this week. The stories are part of what was, but not really who I am today. And yet. . .

The memory is a funny thing. Even when you think all is ok, you find out that it isn’t when the watershed opens at the least expected moment.

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining an Episcopal church for Christmas Eve services. From beginning to end, it was a really beautiful service. Except there was this moment that triggered a flood of emotions. The only problem is that I stood paralyzed by my inability to cry, to run, or to scream. As I listened to Hymn 97, I remembered 37 years prior when I was forced to solo sing the chorus of that very hymn in front of a congregation in a Methodist church.

At the time, I was a young Jewish girl living in a foster home somewhere in Arbutus, Maryland. The family made me go to church every Sunday; I don’t know if I realized that I could say ‘no’ or that I could simply refuse to go. I didn’t have the tools and no one would have heard me if I did.

While the memory flooded my spirit on Sunday night, I also had this incredible moment that that hymn was transformed into something beautiful instead of the memory of a young girl who was alone at one of the hardest times of her life.

No child should be forced to practice a faith that isn’t their own. No child should lose their voice to a system that is broken, but the good news is that the story didn’t end there. On Sunday night, I was able to get lost in the memory only to be ignited by the beautiful passion that that same hymn was able to transform a beautiful community into a holy one. In a spiritual moment, I was able to transform a dark memory and create new memories.

So while I sometimes feel alone, what I know today is some beautiful things can evolve from a moment alone. May I be blessed to remember that while I may have moments when I feel alone, I have a village to hold me tight and love me for the person I am.

Breathing deeply – now and always,

Chava

Read Full Post »

December 2016 - looking out into waterSometimes I am blessed to open a book of poetry to the perfect poem, a magazine to an article that I needed to hear, or just maybe, the person I most need to see shows up in an unexpected moment. Today seemed to be that day for me, in fact in a weird way all three  of these scenarios seemed to be covered when I opened up the book Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown.

Isn’t it funny how life works? I found a passage spoken by poet Maya Angelou and I read a chapter of a what I believe will be a great book written by someone I have no doubt could be my friend if we crossed paths. A few minutes before opening the book, I felt myself go into a dark place as I realized that I have never belonged anywhere – not really.  On a good day, I find peace with myself and enjoy what surrounds me. On a tougher day, I feel deep loneliness that feels like it shreds my heart. On most days, I see-saw back and forth between feeling like I belong and knowing I don’t.  While the journey can feel daunting, I often ride these waves with ease, finding balance along the way.

Post Hurricane Harvey has been challenging. Harvey gave me a lot of time to worry about what I may lose and accept that most of it didn’t matter or at least didn’t matter much. That lead me to reflect about what actually matters to me and who matters. Harvey also brought me face to face with some painful realities and impending losses. I guess you can say that this storm shattered my heart and right now I am taking the time to cry, to heal, and to embrace new opportunities in how I walk in the world. None of the specifics matter in this moment, but this journey has reinforced that I really fit no where and yet I can fit everywhere.

What’s surreal to me is that I do have beautiful villages of people that surround me. For the most part they are somewhat connected while often not connected at all.  Each village gives me places to go when I am looking to surround myself with beloved friends or when I need shelter from a brewing storm, but I am so aware that at any point I can leave without my footprint being missed for too long. This could come from the fact that I am a wandering Jew who has lived in many different places over the years – rarely settling in one place long enough to plant serious roots.

In Brene Brown’s newest book, she quotes Dr. Maya Angelou from an interview she gave Bill Moyers that aired on public television in 1973, she said:

You are only free when you realize you belong no place–
you belong every place–no place at all.
The price is high. The reward is great.

Why is this coming up today of all days?

In part this is emerging because today is Yom Kippur and I am not feeling well enough to be in services. And besides not feeling well, I am having what has become my tug-of-war with this time of the year. I question EVERYTHING about what this time of year means. So. . .what does someone that doesn’t necessarily believe in God do with this energy? How do I navigate what I believe with my love of Judaism and the Jewish people?

On Yom Kippur, traditional teachings tell us that on this day God will decide who will live and who will die. The problem is that I have never believed in THAT God or quite honestly, I don’t really believe in God at all.  For me, Yom Kippur is a time to go inward and to reflect on how I fit into the world and to question do I do enough to make this world a better place. I do believe in the power of the universe, but my faith allows me not to have all the answers, instead I am ok with the unknown and I don’t have to look for God in my life. Instead, I simply chose to adopt an attitude of love for creation and a desire to have a positive impact on the world I live.

For the most part, I have come to accept that even though I have a strong suspicion that I don’t quite fit in to any Jewish community or anywhere, I am still confident that I can navigate nearly any road and visit with ease. I can struggle with God yet still inspire a love of creation and a devotion to Judaism.

Through my writing, I have learned how and when to be a chameleon and when to let my true self shine.  My writing gives me an outlet to comfortably share my vulnerability instead of hiding my views behind my silence; I no longer want to have secrets that force me to be what I am not. Like so many others, I have done that too much in my life.  I guess that is why I am choosing to share what I truly believe about God: I don’t focus on what God is or isn’t, instead I root myself in Godliness or God-energy.  (More on that in a future blog. . .)

Belonging would be lovely, but for now I think it is better that I remain rooted in myself, perhaps even belonging to myself. This way I can be the woman I am — striving to stretch and grow with each and every step I take.  And at the same time, I have found the few friends I value deeply while embracing others that are simply a beautiful part of my life. I guess you could say that while I sometimes feel dark, I am (mostly) content for what I do have.

Have you ever opened up a book that was perfectly aligned to what your spirit needed at the time? I am so grateful that I was able to do exactly that on the holiest day of the Jewish year. I am fairly certain that Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown will continue to motivate me to write more blogs.

Sending love, light, & blessings,
Chava

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »