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Posts Tagged ‘childhood trauma’

img_2740Life is hard. There are hours, days, weeks, months, and even years that every aspect of living is overwhelming.

Fortunately, I am mostly blessed to face hard hours, but during a rare period of time, I may face hard days or weeks. . . .rarely do I face hard months or even hard years.

I am a thriver.

A long time ago, I decided that I didn’t have time for serious suffering so after a few days, I usually shake off my sadness, my pain, and/or my devastation by taking one step and then another.

But there are two times of year that my body seems to take a hiatus from holding it together. One is around the time of my mother’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death, and the other time is the anniversary of when my life was tragically decimated because of the action of others. The funniest part of these times of the year is that I don’t see it coming even if I theoretically know it will.

This week marked 29 years since my mother took her last breath.

Mom’s death nearly crushed me. Even now as I type these words, I am short of breath. And yet, for the first time since her passing, I can see how much I have moved forward. Her memory doesn’t haunt me daily and for the most part I have detached from any real feelings surrounding my mother’s tragic life.

I have been able to move forward so much so that I over the last year I allowed photos of me as a little girl into my house. I guess it was time for me to admit that that little girl really did exist. While I have yet to look at them, I don’t cringe when I see the small stack of photos in my office. Instead I welcome them with an awareness that even though my childhood was seeped in horrific pain, I really was alive and not only did I make it, I became a beautiful soul.

Back to this week:
I have been hurting, creating mountains out of molehills, and feeling painfully alone even as I have been surrounded by loved ones reminding me that I am loved and even adored.  The truth is that my body has been letting me know that this week has forever been imprinted by mother’s mark. The result is that I have a urinary tract  infection (UTI) and a respiratory infection.

I have also found myself sobbing for no reason at all only to smile when in the back of my head I have become the drama queen that I deplore. But for this past week, I couldn’t stop it. My spirit was being assaulted by the memories of my childhood, of a time when I couldn’t protect the onslaught of assault.

My mother was sick, profoundly sick. Her sickness left me ill equipped for thriving and yet I am a thriver. So as the week of her yahrzeit turns into the next week, I am moving forward. I am taking one step and then another.

My UTI will heal as will my respiratory infection. My friends will forgive my antics and some may even hug me and remind me that I am loved.

Tonight, I am taking one step and then another. . . .

Onward with love and light,
Chava

PS – I am profoundly aware that this time of year leaves my spirit bruised, but I am also aware that I will always emerge to find my center again.

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Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.
~ William Wordsworth

As a young child, the girl learned that silence was the only way to walk in the world. Since no one heard her screams of terror or noted her continuous falling apart at the seams, it must have meant that her words and her experiences were of little consequence.

No one responded to the cries of this little and very wounded child; no one reached out to the traumatized teen that used drugs to shield herself from the brokenness of her life. No one called the police when the rage in her home yielded screams that must of reverberated through the brick walls and into the streets. No one cared enough about the little girl and her brother that were forced to navigate some very stark realities.

As time moved forward, the girl’s brother moved away and found the inner strength to leave so that he could ultimately find his way. I’m not sure what that little girl felt at the time; my guess is that she understood that her brother was doing exactly what he should be doing post high school; he was growing up and becoming independent. Once he was gone, dysfunction emerged even more volatile and ruthless than before.

And still. . . no one listened.

Even the SWAT team that was called to her residence when her mother had a psychotic episode didn’t amount to her being safe. Returning home from a bike ride with friends, the little girl found the SWAT team surrounding her house because her mom was terrified when her son had been taken hostage; the only problem was that the sick woman’s son was actually living in another country by that time. Once the ‘ordeal’ was over, the SWAT team left, leaving behind the then preteen girl to navigate whatever realities were there. The little girl always had to navigate and when things were really rough, she had to keep herself safe too.

With nearly everyone turning their back on this precious child, she learned to become silent too. As she grew older, she would take tentative steps to find “her tribe”, sometimes they were the “right” people and sometimes they were not. Eventually she found moments when she would have just a little reprieve and she learned to treasure those moments of safety.

Unfortunately though, being silenced was already instilled. That silence lead her through the years of new beginnings. The default was her protection. She learned to encapsulate any pain and to withhold her traumatic stories. She learned to close off even the deepest hurts.

And then came the day that the little girl stopped remembering, stopped feeling, and disassociated from her previous life. She married, had children of her own, and created a beautiful life with an amazing friendship circle. BUT with time she began to feel the trickling of a breaking reservoir.

At first, only brief memories floated to the surface, but as time went on her heart exploded into shards of glass that sliced open her spirit and caused unrelenting pain.  But again she learned that no one could hear her and no one could look into her eyes while she released the dam. . .there was no one to hold the little girl’s spirit that lived inside a woman’s body.

Years passed and eventually that little girl grew. She found her “tribe”, beloved friends who could handle the trickling of her stories. And that was enough. That little girl had become a woman who felt seen and heard. The woman understood that her loved ones couldn’t bear hearing the stories, they loved her too much for that. But that little girl now a woman understood. . . she was not alone!

Onward with love, light, and blessings,
Chava

PS – After decades of silence, I know that silence is one of my natural defaults. Talking is still sometimes hard for me, but I have found other ways to unleash my silence through writing, art, and sometimes drumming. I have emerged and I am blessed to know that I do have a tribe that could now handle my stories even the hardest ones. I also know that I am loved.

Always Healing

Picture by Chava

 

 

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The blanket of darkness
often brings crystal clear visions.
~Nighttime Reflection by Chava

When I was a little girl, the middle of the night was filled with fear of the unknown. Blood curdling screams would fill my reality as I my parents screeching voices would penetrate the night air. While in reality, they surely didn’t live this ritual every night, it felt like they did because interrupted sleep was always my reality – first because of their outbursts and than because of my reactions to their outbursts. I never did learn to sleep.

Later, years later, as I sat by my father’s bedside during his last days. I distinctly remember coming to the realization that I was grateful to how much healing had taken place from all the childhood drama; it was a good thing because we basically had no more tomorrows; my father’s days were numbered. And yet, my all night vigils brought a little extra healing and peace too. I forgave my father for the pain of my childhood and moved forward as I tried to calm his spirit and love him towards his death. While this brief period of time was hard, it was also trans-formative.  Somehow this time started my journey towards seeing the healing power of darkness.

Unfortunately, the night skies along with the darkness once again became painful a few years later when my oldest son became critically ill.  During this time, I sat in devastation mode, but night was absolutely the worst. Sitting  by the bedside of my very sick teenage son, I knew that his life was nearly over before it began. There were moments when I would drift off to sleep only to wake up in a panic. And yet, he did ultimately thrive! But during his years of healing, it was in the darkness of the night that left me most devastatingly alone. There was no one to call, no one to hold me as I trembled with fear and exhaustion; I was often alone hoping that I could just make it until the sun came up. In those years, the sun always brought a sense of calmness and moving forward, but the moon reminded me that sometimes tomorrows never come.

I love how time has mostly healed what I once thought of the night’s darkness. Over time I have again been able to meet the dark skies with new appreciation. Initially, the middle of the night still brings a moment of angst, but only when I first open my eyes. Easing into wakefulness, I’m often able to find tremendous inner peace leading to the knowledge that calmness will follow. I have grown to love the solitude and the quiet. In the darkness, I find peace with who I am and how I walk in the world; I am better able to navigate the many moving parts of my spirit.  This poem by David Whyte does an amazing job of putting words to how I now feel.

‘SWEET DARKNESS

When your eyes are tired 
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone, 
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark 
where the night has eyes 
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure 
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your home 
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon 
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing. 
The world was made to be free in.

Give up all the other worlds 
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet 
confinement of your aloneness 
to learn

anything or anyone 
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

Louisa - late winter 2015The darkness is where I find what I need, what is good for my soul, and how I will best navigate the world I live.

There is so much power in re-framing the hard stuff. Transformation is possible. 🙂

May darkness always be a gift that allows me to go inward as a means to living in my truth.

Onward with love, light, darkness, & blessings,
Chava

 

 

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The Rose That Grew From Concrete
Written by Tupac Shakur

Did you hear about the rose that grew
from a crack in the concrete?
Proving nature’s law is wrong it
learned to walk with out having feet.
Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,
it learned to breathe fresh air.
Long live the rose that grew from concrete
when no one else ever cared.

When Dovi, my now 18 year old, was younger, he used to say, “Ima (Mommy) is that your new best friend.”  He loved how I could connect with anyone. . . . .  anywhere. The truth is that I still have a way with connecting with most people and while I enjoy nearly every person not everyone is My New Best Friend.

All of my closest friends begin as soul friends.  While it may take years to get to know all the stories, soul friends land in my life and quickly become part of my inner circle.  The blessing is that most of those people enter my life and never leave; I really am someone who loves forever.

Today’s gift was “Telli”.  Within minutes of meeting, we connected. We didn’t know each other’s stories yet and still don’t have a lot of the details,but we now realize that our stories have traveled a parallel course.

Every person has a story. For those of us that have faced childhood trauma, our stories fuel our soul and give us a foundation that few can understand (and we really wouldn’t want those we love to ‘get it’.) Yet when we find those that have emerged or thrived from similar challenges, we often feel an intense closeness with a kindred spirit.

This afternoon literally made my heart sing. While I rarely feel alone in my journey, my friends carry me and hold me whenever I need their love. Still it is awesome to connect with someone that doesn’t need explanations for how you walk in the world.

Driving home, I knew it was mutual, but what confirmed it was when “Telli” texted me the poem above. I am so grateful that we both bloomed as we did. Yay!!!!

And the funniest thing is that my GPS added 40 extra minutes to my trek to go to “Telli’s” shop. I almost turned around when I found my first traffic accident.  But something told me that I should make the trek and I am so glad I did.  Because now I can say that I have met my very first new best friend in Houston. (Note: I love the many confirmations that moving to Houston was a great decision.)

While I am bummed that “Telli” and I didn’t take a selfie together, I know we will have a next time. 🙂 In fact, after I told Dovi the story of My New Best Friend, he asked me why I didn’t invite her to join us for the evening.

May we each open doors to new friendships; they really do make our lives more complete.

With love, light and blessings,
Chava

1 Feb 2015Chantalle Brooks

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Note to Seeing the Door series:                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Wherever you go, possibilities surround you! By opening both your eyes and your heart, a door will always appear.

Have you ever noticed how many different types of doors exist in the world?  Nearly each and every door leads to an opportunity.  Some doors are physical; other doors are metaphoric.  All doors lead to opportunity.  

Don'tForget

Usually I am so thoughtful.  A day doesn’t go by when I don’t think about where I came from and about the life I lived with my family.  I remember the physical environment, the smells, the gifts (believe it or not), and the challenges.  I remember the music, the stories, and the tears.  Lots of darkness transpired in my childhood, but my father always brought music and stories into my life.  Until the day my father died just over 12 years ago, he filled my life with stories and music.

For those of you that know me well, you know that my childhood was scary in nearly every way, but there were moments when a story or music transformed my darkness into light.  My father loved both and transferred that love to me.  For that I am blessed.  After all these years, I am glad that I can find blessings somewhere in all the muck.

At this point, some of you might be wondering why am I bringing this up tonight.  Well, it is simply because over the last couple of days, I kept thinking I am missing my dad’s yahrzeit, the anniversary of his death.  Well today I finally did a double-checked and I realized that his yahrzeit was Thursday night and Friday.    Funny, I am a little stunned at the realization.  I could make any number of excuses, but perhaps the simple truth is that in this moment, I don’t care.  Perplexing is the only word that comes to mind.

After a lifetime of letting the memories of my childhood affect me and sometimes torment me for a period of every day, I have now moved forward.  While I remember, the memories no longer absorb my daily thoughts.  Wow. . . now that is a gift!

So, now that I remember, should I light the yahrzeit candle in memory of my father or should I just let go?  While I am not certain what I will decide, I feel some sense of peace knowing that a part of me has truly let go of the intense darkness.

For those of you that know my love of storytelling and music, take a moment and say thank you to Morry Bloomberg.  I am so grateful for the gifts he bestowed upon me by example.  Just by example, my father opened many doorways within my life.  My stories, like his stories have allowed me to interact with people wherever I go; there is no such thing as a stranger.

May Morry’s memory be a blessing for good.

Good-bye Abba – I am so sorry I forgot your yahrzeit.

Next Day’s Addendum:  Tonight I will take a moment and light not a traditional yahrzeit (memorial) candle for my father, but a candle I made . . . .  It feels like the right thing to do.  A special thanks to those of you that took the time to share your thoughts.

Abba'sYahrzeit

 

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‘Normal’

Life is so full of experiences from beginning to end.   We live, we dance, we sing, we crumble; our bodies thrive, they evolve, they strengthen, they degenerate, and sometimes we can rebuild them again.  Our hearts hurt and then they become mostly whole again.  Life is what happens as you walk along the way.  And sometimes we are blessed with a full life and sometimes we can’t see it that way.

For nearly three years, I experienced a normal that I pray you never experience.  And yet even as I type these words, I know that I am so incredibly lucky.  While my son Aryeh suffered incredible physical pain and emotional darkness, I was able to be there for him.  I was able to hold him, massage his feet, and give him the intense love that hopefully helped his spirit.  As a family, we found ways to enjoy life and to thrive even as we managed some intense challenges.

Sometimes our children experience normal viruses, broken limbs, or what I refer to as uneventful events.  Moments in time that happen just because you are alive, just because you have a body and you live in society.  Viruses happen, klutzy moments occur, and wisdom teeth often have to be removed from your mouth especially if you are blessed with your mother’s genetics.  My mouth is so small that I had six teeth removed once my adult teeth grew in and then my wisdom teeth had to come out too.

Well Aryeh was blessed with having one of his first ‘normal’ health challenges.  Today he had his wisdom teeth out.  Most of you remember what it was like; it hurts and you feel rotten for a few days.  After about a week, you barely suffer the effects of the experience.  Hopefully that will be true for Aryeh.  I am amazed at his ability to cope with the pain and to persevere.  That doesn’t mean it is painless, but he is handling it.

Amazing - Aryeh is looking good even though his wisdom (teeth) are gone.

I love watching normal even though it isn’t feeling great for Aryeh.  I love know that my son is now a thriving young man who is not bound by the torment of his earlier teenage years.  While oral surgery is taking a bit out of life for the next couple of days, he is planning on seeing his friends in the coming days, keeping track on the news, and learning about Leonardo Da Vinci.

While life has brought us challenges, I am reminded of Debbie Friedman’s song, Mourning into Dancing, inspired by Palm 30.

May each of us be blessed with turning our Mourning into Dancing and finding light in whatever normal might look like for you

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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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